Much has been written about the restorative powers of Nature and how time spent outdoors can ease a wide variety of afflictions, reduce stress, and revive the spirit. For many individuals, young and old, that means time spent gardening.
Just because people age doesn’t mean they can’t continue to enjoy all the pleasures and benefits associated with gardening as they get older. Like many low-impact forms of leisure and recreation, gardening provides exercise, visual and mental stimulation, and a sense of accomplishment, which are all good for the body and soul. For many seniors, the ability to continue gardening is just the right medicine. The trick is to tailor the activity and the tools needed for it to the age and ability of the gardener.
Low stamina and limited mobility are two of the biggest impacts of aging and can be impediments to many physical activities. There are now a wide variety of gardening tools designed specifically for seniors and gardening methods tailored to aging bodies and reduced physical capabilities.
Some age-related conditions, such as arthritis, make holding tools difficult, painful, or even impossible for some elderly individuals. In this case, there are foam grips that can be added to existing tools to soften the handles and improve gripping power. Stretching to reach far corners and tall plants can also become an issue for less flexible seniors who may be unsteady on their feet and lose their balance. Fortunately that’s a problem that can be is easy to solve with a wide variety of “grabbers” and extension poles that enable the user to safely reach hard-to-reach areas; many can even be used from a safe sitting position.
Brightly colored handles are essential gardening tool aids for seniors who are beginning to experience vision problems. Different tools can be easily identified and located by marking them with colorful tapes and wraps or spray paints.
One of the most useful items for the senior gardener is a wheeled garden caddy. These act as a perch, a container to hold tools, and provide easy transportation for moving plants, pots, tools, and other gardening items.
Gardeners with patios or lanais benefit from coiled hoses that you can attach to your kitchen faucet. These help prevent injuries that might result from hauling heavy watering cans.
There are some other simple tricks and tips that can modify the gardening experience for many seniors and ensure that they’ll be able to stay in the garden for years to come:
- Select easy-to-grow plants that can tolerate difficult conditions in case waterings and weedings are occasionally missed
- Build raised beds that have enough room on all sides to reach the center without causing the senior to reach or bend awkwardly
- Provide pathways that are easy to traverse for walkers, canes, or wheelchairs
- Situate stools or resting places to make rest breaks easy and enjoyable
- Gardens for senior citizens should be simple and contained, with fencing, if necessary, to provide security
Gardening is just too enjoyable and productive to deny it to the infirm or elderly. With just a little forethought, planning, and modification, gardens and the equipment needed to work in them can be adopted for seniors so that they can continue to enjoy this valuable leisure time activity.