Gardening is often a popular activity in retirement, and can be highly rewarding as well as an excellent form of gentle exercise. The movements made while gardening can help maintain flexibility and mobility, as well as encouraging the use of all motor skills in the process. It’s also something that people can continue to enjoy as they age, thanks to the many adaptations and modifications that can be made to tools, beds and equipment.
Encouraging gardening can be beneficial to both physical and mental health, and for an older person who is maybe restricted in the other activities they can enjoy, it can be an excellent way to focus their mind on something productive and fun. However, it’s important to ensure that they can undertake this activity safely, and without putting themselves at risk.
Although gardening is a great hobby for older people of all ages, it’s important to keep them safe when they are working in the garden. They may have some specific requirements, depending on their state of health, so it’s worth thinking about and preparing for their needs so that gardening doesn’t put them at unnecessary risk. For example:
· Eyesight: Older people may struggle to see as well as they used to, which can be exacerbated if the garden has areas of light and shade. Making safe walkways with even surfaces can help them get around, and using sunglasses or reactive lenses will assist them in coping with glare from the sun.
· Balance: For an older person, a fall can be disastrous. Their balance might not be as good as it once was, so it’s important to reduce trip hazards and to maintain paths and walkways to stop them becoming slippery. Providing grab rails by steps and ramps can also help to avoid falls.
· Skin: The skin of an older person may be more fragile, so it’s important they wear adequate protection from scrapes and bruises. Encourage the use of gloves and other safety equipment, and use sun cream and wide brimmed hats to avoid sunburn.
· Temperature: With a greater susceptibility to dehydration and temperature changes, it’s important to make sure older people stay hydrated and either warm or cool enough. Layer clothing to make it easier for them to adjust their insulation, and use breathable materials to keep them cool and dry.
There are numerous modifications that can be made to tools, beds and equipment to make it easier for older people to enjoy gardening, even if their mobility is starting to decline. Think about purchasing adaptive tools or modifying tools with foam grips to make them easier to handle. Paving areas of grass can make it easier to get around with a walking frame or wheelchair, and raising flower beds or planting vertically with hanging baskets and trellises can help those who find bending and kneeling a problem.
One of the first things you notice when you arrive at our care home are the beautiful, extensive gardens we have here. Although our gardens are professionally landscaped, we also provide facilities for our residents to help out with the planting, weeding and pruning. They love being able to continue their gardening hobby when they move in with us, and to see the fruits of their labour in our colourful flower beds all year round. If your loved one loves to garden, we’ll help them to continue enjoying their hobby in a safe, comfortable way.