Gardening for older people

National Gardening WeekIt’s National Gardening Week,

10-16 April 2017!

Gardening for older people

Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits for older people and can keep you or your loved one fit and healthy.

  • It is an enjoyable form of exercise.
  • It increases levels of physical activity and maintains mobility and flexibility.
  • It encourages use of all motor skills – walking, reaching and bending – through activities such as planting seeds and taking cuttings
  • It improves endurance and strength
  • It helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis
  • It reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation
  • It provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors
  • It improves well-being as a result of social interaction with others, such as going to garden centres and sharing ideas about plants, flowers and vegetables

Garden beds, equipment and tools can all be modified if necessary, so older people can create a garden that is interesting, accessible and productive.

Adapting garden tools and ways of working to help the older gardener.

  • Use vertical planting to make garden beds accessible for planting and harvesting
  • Try using wall and trellis spaces
  • Raise beds to enable people with physical restrictions to avoid bending and stooping
  • Provide retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and containers on castors to make suitable movable and elevated garden beds
  • Find adaptive tools and equipment. These are available from some hardware shops and garden centres
  • Use foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools and make them easier to handle
  • Use lightweight tools that are easier to handle or have special grips
  • Create shady areas for working in summer months
  • Have stable chairs and tables to use for comfortable gardening and rest stops
  • Ensure that there is an easily accessible tap and a hose, or consider installing a drip feeder system for easy watering

Here’s a list of websites which can provide a vast array of gardening aids – perfect for making elderly or disabled gardening easier.

NRS Healthcare 

Complete Care Shop

Living Made Easy

Physical and mental considerations to bear in mind for your loved one.

  • Fragile, thinning skin meaning they are more susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn
  • Loss of peripheral vision means they must take care and generally poorer eyesight can restrict activities
  • Greater susceptibility to temperature changes and dehydration, or heat exhaustion, so they should take care whilst gardening to drink regularly and wear a hat
  • Falls are more common, because balance is often not as good
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis may restrict movement and flexibility

Safety in the garden.

The older person in the garden can remain safer if they:

  • Attend to any cuts, bruises or insect bites immediately. For bites or stings, they should keep anti-histamine handy
  • Take care when using power tools
  • Secure gates and fences for safety, if memory loss is an issue
  • Ensure that paths and walkways are flat and non-slip and are regularly power-hosed to remove slime
  • Warm up before gardening and take frequent breaks
  • Prevent sun exposure by working in the garden early in the morning or late in the day. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen frequently
  • Drink water or juice regularly to prevent dehydration
  • Wear protective shoes, lightweight comfortable clothes that cover exposed skin, a hat and gardening gloves
  • Wash hands thoroughly after gardening
This information guide has been prepared by Right at Home UK and contains general advice only, it should not be relied on as a basis for any decision or action and cannot be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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