If you are dealing with an elderly relative you know the importance of getting them out into the fresh air. Whether they were a green thumb in the past or you’re looking for an activity to keep your aging loved one involved and occupied, consider gardening as a way to keep them engaged.
There are many gardening tools and accessories on the market that can help individuals enjoy gardening and the fruits of their labors well into old age. When shopping, make certain you purchase lightweight tools and look for those with extendable handles if possible; these tools will help those with limited mobility be able to be involved in the cultivation, weeding, pruning and general garden maintenance. Don’t forget to purchase gardening gloves, a kneeling pad (if they’re mobile enough for this) or a low, short stool on which they can sit while tending their garden.
Decide with your aging loved one whether they’re more interested in flowering plants or if they want some vegetable plants so they can pick and enjoy them once they’re ready. Work with a local garden center to find low maintenance plants that will bring your aging parent.
Regardless of whether your parents are living in their own home or if they’re in an assisted living facility you can still provide them a way to get involved in gardening whether it’s a patch of dirt outside the house or a container garden set up. If your relatives have a difficult time with mobility consider planting their garden on raised beds to help them avoid bending. With container gardens you can place them in areas that are easy for your relatives to see and reach. Make certain you place the container where you want it before you fill it with dirt or it could be impossible to lift!
Buy pots that are bigger than you think you will need even if they look forlorn and empty from the beginning. Also mix in a good quality fertilizer or compost into the dirt to help the plants thrive. Make certain your relatives either have access to a hose to water the plants when the weather doesn’t cooperate and provide rain. If there is no hose, provide small, easy to manage watering cans. Look for a small wheeled cart if they have trouble lifting objects such as a watering can, they can fill it and wheel it back out to the garden.
Giving your aging relatives a “task” that involves the weeding of their garden, watering it, plucking some flowers or even flavorful herbs is a great way to keep them active and involved could even open the door to a hobby they’d never participated in before. Some health professionals feel that tending a garden and watching plant life thrive is beneficial to emotional health. Also, don’t limit your gardening to summer as you can replace summer flowering plants with hardy winter blooms or even a small spruce tree.
The gentle exercise of gardening can help strengthen your relatives’ muscles, keep them active and give them a reason to get out into the fresh air for brief periods of time. Make sure you impress upon them the importance of always wearing their medical alert pendant, even when out of doors, in the event they need to summon help in an emergency situation.