How to Bring the Garden to Elderly Adults

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Is your aging mom or dad an avid gardener but had to give it up in recent years due to health issues? Now that illness, injury or age-related health issues are preventing them from an extensive garden, many elderly adults mistakenly believe that their gardening days are over. However, with some creativity, determination and support from family caregivers and elder care providers, aging adults can enjoy their beloved hobby no matter what their physical capabilities are.

Traditional Gardening vs. Container Gardening

Your elderly parent most likely had a garden plot in the backyard where they would grow fruits, vegetables and even flowers and herbs. Gardening is a lot of work, requiring bending, lifting, pulling, kneeling, twisting, grabbing and more. Aging adults can no longer do all that work for a traditional garden, especially if they use a walker or wheelchair. Many seniors are dependent on others, like elder care providers and family members, for help with their daily duties like meal preparation, dressing and medication management. However, with container gardening, seniors can take charge, feel some independence and grow most of their favorite plants without risking their health and safety.

Container gardening is the practice of growing plants in single containers or even raised beds that bring the soil up to the height of a standing or sitting person. Most plants can be grown in containers, from tomatoes and roses to green beans and blueberries. Seniors can work with easy-to-grow varieties of plants that will produce an abundance of rewards, both visual and edible. Container gardens also require much less weeding, but usually more watering, giving seniors plenty to do all summer long.

Here are a few important tips for you to consider as you make plans for a container garden this year for your aging loved one.

  • Select containers that fit the aging adult’s physical abilities. Common choices include large flower pots, raised beds, stand-up plant beds, hanging baskets and tabletop pots. Seniors should be able to access the containers without being off balance or otherwise straining themselves. Even seniors in wheelchairs can do container gardens.
  • Choose plants that are specially cultivated to thrive in containers. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers can all yield great harvests when grown in containers and cared for properly. Refer to the plant information that reveals watering preference, sun requirements and more for the best results.
  • Gardening gives aging adults the chance to be outside in the sunshine and fresh air. However, family caregivers and elder care providers need to keep safety in mind. Seniors should avoid sunburn and dehydration when outside. Morning and evening hours may be best for gardening to avoid the heat of the day. They should also do everything to help seniors avoid off-balance issues and slip and fall accidents.
  • Seniors need proper gardening tools that suit their abilities. Examples include garden tools with foam handles, wheeled caddies, garden chairs, and easy watering options. Family caregivers and elder care providers should handle any heavy lifting or strenuous work with the container garden.

Gardening is both rewarding and fun, especially for aging adults who may be spending a lot of time at home due to illness, injury and age-related health problems. With help from family caregivers and elder care providers, seniors can enjoy container gardening no matter what their abilities.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in South Riding, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.