Though a blossoming garden may be a lifelong passion, gardening on a regular basis can actually be used as a therapeutic way to enhance qualities of life, particularly in the elderly population. According to Jack Kerrigan, the North Central Regional Director at OSU Extension, gardening may “improve the elderly person’s physical and emotional conditions, cognitive ability and social interactions.”
In Kerrigan’s article, “Gardening With the Elderly,” he said that aging does impact how one gardens, which is why some simple modifications can be done to the practice, situations and tools that can help increase continued participation. He suggests painting tools a bright color, growing more plants with olfactory stimulation and creating smooth surfaced paths in your garden to make it easier to see and partake.
Kerrigan also encourages participants to garden early in the morning or later in the day so they are not impacted by the change in temperatures as drastically, in addition to drinking plenty of water and juice, avoiding alcohol, wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothes, eating light meals and applying sunscreen regularly. He also prompts gardeners to avoid the use of power tools and instead allow ample time for gardening-related activities. If you are unable to tend to your outdoor garden on a regular basis, Kerrigan said “indoor and container gardening projects are more appropriate.”
Both Home Care Assistance Columbus and Kerrigan suggest gardening with a friend or loved one, though Kerrigan urges individual gardeners to have control over their own particular area and plants that they can care for. Kerrigan said social activities associated with the garden are encouraged, since it allows for participants to teach each other and is a hobby that a person of any age can participate in. In turn, he said this can boost self-esteem or self-confidence in addition to acting as a bridge between family and friends. Visit About.com to learn how to kick-start a windowsill garden in 20 minutes or less.
Grow and consume!