Whether seniors have a lifelong love of gardening or have never grown anything green - ever, research increasingly points to the many reasons why tending to a garden is good for older adults. From encouraging physical activity to promoting food security, the benefits of gardening go on and on. Gardening has even been been proven to be therapeutic for people with Alzheimer’s disease! The observation of National Garden Week -- celebrated in 2016 from June 5-11 -- is the perfect opportunity to encourage seniors to start enjoying the benefits of gardening. Not sure where to begin? Consider these three simple gardening projects aimed at helping aging loved ones get up close and personal with nature.
1. Container Gardens and Raised Beds
While the kneeling and bending of gardening in a conventional bed can strain aging knees and backs, container gardening offers a less physically demanding alternative. Placed right outside the door at either waist or hip height for easy access, raised beds are suitable for both flowers or vegetables. A kneeler stool and adaptive garden tools can further help seniors who may otherwise feel aches and pains while gardening.
2. Vertical Gardens
If your aging loved one can’t make it down to the garden, bring the garden up to him. Helping your aging loved one set up a trellis means he’ll never have to bend again. From beans and peas to tomatoes and melons, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables ideal for trellising. An added benefit of this technique? It improves yields while simultaneously saving space. Your aging loved one may still need a break every now and then, so make sure there’s nearby seating, such as a bench or garden chair.
3. Herb Gardens
Even if your aging loved one doesn’t get out and about much, he can still get in on the gardening fun. Herb gardens can grow nearly anywhere and are perfect for a senior’s window sill. The more attention herbs like basil, chives, and parsley get, the more they produce. Your aging loved one will love pinching, picking and sharing the bounty. If grandkids live nearby, herb gardens are also a terrific intergenerational project.
Seniors don’t have to have tons of space or grow massive gardens to reap the benefits of this pleasurable and beneficial pastime. In fact, something as simple as a potted plant can imbue meaning to life by giving older adults something for which to care. Up for a bigger project? Look into starting a community garden program in your aging loved one’s senior living community to spread the joy of gardening with others.
A number of gardening projects are particularly senior-friendly, such as container, vertical and herb gardens.
Depending on your aging loved one’s abilities as well as your own desired level of involvement, there are many ways to help seniors benefit from gardening -- from starting with a small, potted plant to beginning a community garden initiative.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.