Gardening is good for all ages. It awakens our connection with nature, stimulates our senses, and rewards us with nutritious vegetables and fruits; of course, not to mention fresh flowers. According to Dee McGuire, a horticultural therapist in Baltimore, Maryland, gardening is “restorative even if you have dementia.” For aging bodies, gardening delivers an effective aerobic exercise and body flexibility. It also helps seniors to shed off those extra calories for healthy living. These are some of the reasons why this activity has remained popular among Americans even in their golden years. As documented in the 2016 National Gardening Survey, about 74 percent of Americans take part in lawn and gardening activities. This is well about three-quarters of the entire American population.
Sure, there is no doubt that lifting, bending, squatting, kneeling, pruning, weeding- and of course, not to mention the sun and heat- all become increasingly challenging with aging. Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention, they say. There are certainly ways to cope, and when Bruce Butterfield, a former director of research at the National Gardening Association, recalls that his mother placed flower pots in the patio area to easily access them using a walker, he is probably telling as the truth. In fact, the pages of history have it that the old woman maintained her garden until she died at age 96. To make your garden senior-friendly, you can do the following:
- Improve drainage by creating beds.
- Reduce the weight of planters by planting in foam-walled or resin containers. Putting individual pots on casters makes them even more portable.
- Do away with hanging baskets. They dry out fast and need frequent fertilization. They can also be difficult to access.