Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

Gardening for the elderly

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Gardening is a fantastic pastime; it provides people with exercise and fresh air while allowing them to connect with nature, and various studies have found that it reduces stress.

Gardening also has a number of benefits for the elderly; it allows them to stay fit and healthy without over-exercising, and it can help to maintain flexibility and mobility. However, it is important to make sure that the garden is safe for the elderly to use, especially if they are an avid gardener. Here are five gardening tips for the elderly.

Gardening for the elderly

Make it easier for them to move around

Gardens can be quite difficult to navigate, especially if the paving is broken or slanted, so it can be beneficial to make it easier for them to move around. You can do this by laying down a wide, flat path that spans the edge of the garden, as well as handrails and suitable lighting. This means that it will be easy for them to move around the garden, even if it is night time or the ground is wet.

Invest in adapted gardening tools

There are plenty of garden tools that are custom made for the elderly and wheelchair users. Some come with attachable poles that reduce the need for bending, while others have grab and hold mechanisms. It is even possible to buy gardening gloves with sticky palms to make it easier to hold on to things. This means that an elderly person can garden without straining their body, so they are less likely to injure themselves.

Plant low maintenance plants

There are plenty of low maintenance plants that are very easy to look after. This is ideal for elderly people who struggle to garden every day. For example, you could plant perennial flowers as they will come back every year, reducing the need for the annual planting session. It can also be beneficial to plant slow growing shrubs, as this reduces the need for frequent pruning, particularly larger shrubs which may require pruning of higher branches with the associated risks.

Gardening for the elderly

Consider getting rid of the lawn

Lawns can look beautiful, but they are time-consuming to maintain. If the care recipient struggles to mow the lawn, the garden will quickly become overgrown and unkempt. This can look messy, and it is also very difficult to deal with if it is left for a few months, so it could be worth getting rid of the lawn and replacing it with paving or, indeed, artificial grass which has improved in appearance and reduced in price over the past few years. Alternatively, you could consider hiring a gardener (or a family friend) to help with the lawn.

Add comfortable seating

Finally, it can be useful to add extra comfortable seating such as bench, or a table with chairs. This means that the elderly person can sit down and enjoy the view if they want to take a break from gardening.

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