Gardening is one of the healthiest and best activities for people of any age, including seniors. Gardening activities for the elderly stimulate their senses. Working with plants allows seniors to interact with nature and regain a sense of self and pride. More senior home garden activities are being offered to elderly residents of retirement homes and nursing homes, and even to patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Read on to learn more about gardening activities for the elderly.
Gardening Activities for the Elderly
Gardening is recognized as an excellent way for older people to exercise. A large percentage of those over the age of 55 actually do some gardening. The lifting and bending can be difficult for older bodies. Experts recommend modifying the garden to make gardening activities for the elderly easier to accomplish. Gardens for nursing home residents also make many of these modifications. The suggested adaptations include adding benches in the shade, creating narrow raised beds to allow easier access, making gardens vertical (using arbors, trellises, etc.) to reduce the need for bending, and making greater use of container gardening. Seniors can protect themselves while gardening by working when the weather is cool, like in the morning or late afternoon, and carrying water with them at all times to prevent dehydration. It is also particularly important for elderly gardeners to wear sturdy shoes, a hat to keep the sun off their face, and gardening gloves.
Gardening for Nursing Home Residents
More nursing homes are realizing the healthful effects of gardening activities for the elderly and increasingly plan senior home garden activities. For example, Arroyo Grande Care Center is a skilled nursing home that allows patients to work on a functioning farm. The gardens are wheel-chair accessible. Arroyo Grande patients can plant, care for, and harvest fruits and vegetables that are then donated to low-income seniors in the area. Even gardening with dementia patients has proved a success at Arroyo Grande Care Center. Patients remember how to undertake the tasks, especially repetitive, although they may quickly forget what they accomplished. Similar activities for Alzheimer’s patients have had similarly positive results. Organizations that help the elderly at home are also including gardening encouragement in their services. For example, Home Instead Senior Care caregivers aid elderly gardeners with outdoor projects.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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