On a summer's day, there's nothing nicer than being sat out in the garden either pottering around caring for the plants or simply enjoying the sun. Not only is gardening a therapeutic activity for the elderly, but it can provide light but effective exercise in old age.
Making a garden safe and pleasant for an elderly relative, friend or neighbour is therefore a valuable way in which you can help improve their quality of life in later years.
1. Improve the surface
Being out in the garden is great for health and well-being, but many outdoor areas pose several risks for slips and falls. Perhaps the ground is uneven in places, or maybe they have a patio that gets particularly slippery after rain.
Take some time to assess the garden of your elderly person, taking into considerations their particular vulnerabilities that the outdoor area may be unsuitable for. Then either tackle these issues yourself or hire a gardener who can help to make it safe and easy to get around.
Areas of the garden that are less accessible can be improved with pathways that are suitable for those with a walking stick or wheelchair.
2. Prepare the area
Many people find gardening a fun and active hobby, but as you age, there are some parts of gardening that are too strenuous or tricky for older people.
If there are any overgrown areas or preparatory tasks than need doing to the garden, spend a few hours helping out to get the area to a point where it will be manageable for an elderly person. Weeding, planting bedding plants and watering the garden can all be positive and enjoyable tasks to make the most of the great outdoors.
If you don't have the time yourself, hire a gardener who can do the more difficult tasks once a week and leave the safe and easy activities ready to do.
3. Make gardening easier
Whilst gardening can be great exercise, if someone is suffering from limited mobility, then bending down and reaching up for those flower beds and hanging basket can be risky.
But there is a way around it. Buy or make your own pulley system hanging basket and get to work on making raised flower beds that will be suitable for those in wheelchairs or with mobility issues.
This way, your elderly friend, neighbour or relative can enjoy gardening without risking injury, dizziness or falls. It might take some time and money to get the garden to a place where it is accessible and safe, but these few changes can have long term benefits for their wellbeing that make it worthwhile.
4. Low maintenance
Opt for flowers that will require minimum effort and bring maximum satisfaction through their colour and appearance.
Alpine plants need little to no attention and will come back year upon year to put a smile on the person's face, as will wild-flowers such as daffodils. Herbs and fragrant flowers bring a beautiful smell to the garden that will ignite the senses and make the garden even more pleasant. They should also attract wildlife that will bring the garden to life.
If you aren't sure what flowers and plants are particularly low maintenance, talk it over with the garden centre so that you can create the perfect outdoor area. And as an added touch, fill the garden with safe seating area where they can sit and enjoy the view.
5. Mobility ramps and outdoor stairlifts
Depending on the mobility of your relative, it is probably a good idea to remove the risk of any steps or stairways in the garden with a mobility aid.
Whether you choose a stair handrail, mobility ramp or outdoor stairlift, there are plenty of ways in which you can make a garden safe for the elderly. Not just suitable for indoors, you can get non-slip surfaces and all-weather stairlifts that will be durable and long term solutions to entering and exiting the garden.
And some people will be eligible for a disability grant that will reduce the cost of the investment, to make it a more plausible option.
The garden is a positive environment for the mind and soul, whilst gardening is a great activity for people of all ages and abilities. Old age issues such as limited mobility and wheelchair restrictions shouldn't prevent someone from enjoying the benefits of garden. It just takes a few more precautions and preparation to create a safe and pleasant outdoor area for the elderly. These five top tips should help you to create the ideal garden for your relative, friend or neighbour and show that you really care.