Now that spring is here at last, you may find that by taking a little extra care, you can make the new gardening season especially meaningful for the senior in your life with a green thumb – or with just a plain old fondness for being outdoors.
Gardening has long been a popular pastime for seniors, and why not? It’s an excellent way to stay physically active, get some fresh air, and end up with some lovely flowers for the bedside or vegetables for the dinner table. Of course, for many seniors there are challenges associated with gardening; however, a little special care on the caregiver’s part can help to make gardening a more rewarding and stimulating experience.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Eliminate bending and stooping. There’s no way of getting around it: gardening is going to involve some amount of bending over; however, it doesn’t have to be an extreme amount. If possible, utilize raised garden beds for the gardening areas that are most important to your senior loved ones. You may want to purchase platforms from a garden supply center, or consider putting some together from various odds and ends. Most of the time, a height of one to two feet off the ground is ideal, but you can easily modify this height to meet the needs of the individual in question. If platforms for entire beds are difficult, consider putting some tall plants in large pots and perhaps putting smaller potted plants on shelves or platforms.
- Provide appropriate seating. After establishing the heights of your beds, whether raised or not, find stools or other appropriate seating equipment that will provide the right kind of support for your senior gardener. Determine whether a seat that has wheels or rollers is a good idea; wheels make it easier to move from place to place, but some seniors might need more solid support.
- Provide support for aching knees. Make gardening easier for those seniors capable of kneeling by getting knee pads or padded strips on which they can kneel.
- Make tools easier to see and handle. Many seniors find it easier to get a grip on tools that have fat, padded or rubber handles rather than skinny or metal handles that may be somewhat slippery. In addition, older eyes may have an easier time picking out tools that are painted in bright colors or decorated with bright tape, rather than those that sport a traditional chrome of black look.
- Keep paths clear. Remove tools or kids’ toys from garden paths. Roll up hoses so that no one trips over them.
- Designate special areas for the tools for the senior gardener. These areas should be as close to the actual gardening areas as possible. Consider the height at which tools will need to be stored for easiest access.
With a little special care, spring and summer gardening can be highly rewarding for seniors – and for all others that help them in the garden!