aging Gardening Benefits Those with Disabilities

Gardening Benefits Those with Disabilities

PMC  May 15, 2018    pmc  Jeff Conner

There are so many gardening benefits for those with disabilities and seniors, including a sense of purpose and fresh produce. Consider creating more access to a green space in honor of Garden Meditation Day on May 3rd, 2018.  

With spring weather comes gardening season; do you know a senior that likes to garden? There are so many benefits for people to engage in this pastime, and physical limitations should not impede you in getting out, gardening, and growing something! Talk to your provider about how mobility devices can make your outdoor spaces more accessible and convenient.

Gardening benefits those with disabilities in a myriad of ways:

Do you spend any time outside gardening? Even if you lack the green space to have a large plot of produce or plants, you can still observe Garden Meditation Day May 3rd this year. Take part in cultivating or nurturing a living thing – like a potted plant, windowsill herb garden, or window-box of flowers – and see how spending time in the garden can benefit you in a myriad of ways.

Some gardening perks include:

  • Physical fitness. Gardening is an enjoyable form of exercise for all fitness levels, that gets seniors up and out of the home regularly.
  • Fosters flexibility. Getting down and in the dirt increases mobility and flexibility. It can help work tired or aching joints, which may ward-off some types of arthritis.
  • Motivates movement. Gardening encourages the use of all motor skills, again, keeping joints and muscles limber and flexible.
  • Enhances endurance. Daily gardening chores can improve your endurance and build strength over time.
  • Wards-off illness. Regular activity, like gardening, helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis, which can have debilitating physical impacts on a senior.
  • Reduces stress. Spending time in the garden is peaceful and it reduces stress levels. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation, which can help with mood, sleep, and overall well-being.
  • Encourages a new hobby. Gardening provides stimulation and can inspire an interest in nature and the outdoors. A new hobby is a healthy coping strategy, particularly for aging individuals.
  • Facilitates socialization. Another perk of gardening is that it facilitates social interactions with others. This Improves well-being as people are inherently social creatures. When many seniors may isolate or withdraw, gardening can engage them with other like-minded individuals.
  • Supplies produce. A thriving garden can provide nutritious, home-grown produce. This is a win-win situation all the way around!
  • Offers a sense of purpose. Taking care of a garden can offer a sense of purpose to aging people that may feel estranged or disenfranchised. Taking care and nurturing something else, like a plant or a pet, can give many seniors the motivation and reason to get out of bed each day.

Making adaptations for the gardener

Perhaps an additional benefit of gardening is that it is feasible for adjustments and adaptations to equipment and tools for the gardener. This extends to raised planters, vertical beds, and trellis gardens; some garden retailers offer retractable hanging baskets and pots on casters to increase ease for gardeners with physical limitations. Some other tips to encourage seniors to garden include:

  • Wrap tools with foam and heavy-duty tape to improve grip and make them easier to handle.
  • Look for lightweight, plastic gardening tools for increased ease.
  • Make sure to provide a shady spot for taking breaks when gardening in hot weather.
  • Rig up a tap or hose to make watering convenient and less-hazardous for the gardener.

Staying safe outside

While gardening offers a gamut of benefits, it also merits taking a few safety precautions to reduce the risk of a fall or injury when spending time outside. Some common-sense tips for the would-be gardener include:

  • Tend to any cuts, scrapes, or bites immediately to avoid infection.
  • Use power tools with care, and according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Clear and maintain paths or walkways that could pose a fall risk.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade when gardening on hot days and use care to prevent dehydration.
  • Protect yourself with sunscreen, a brimmed-hat, and long sleeves when gardening outside.
  • Always wear gardening gloves when working in the dirt.
  • Skip the cocktails; alcohol can be a diuretic which can make you more vulnerable to dehydration and heat.

Don’t forget about Gardening Meditation Day this May 3rd, 2018 – get outside and plant a pot, bed, or bounty of fresh flowers, greens, produce, and herbs this summer! If you – or someone you care about – lives with physical disabilities or limitations, talk to the experts about how mobility aids can improve accessibility and enhance the overall quality of life today. A team of mobility experts is waiting to assess, evaluate, and offer solutions that can resume independence and freedom to everyday living.