Creative pursuits: Gardening
Gardening is a pastime that appeals to a wide range of people, because of its therapeutic nature and the fitness benefits associated with it. There are a lot of ways to get involved in gardening, whether that is looking after your own space, growing fruits and vegetables in an allotment, or helping out in community gardening projects.
There are plenty of community-based schemes where volunteers help maintain the gardens of elderly or disabled people who cannot cope with it themselves. Joining these schemes can help you to find a new social group, but volunteering is also associated with improved well-being.
There are ways that gardens can be adapted to help older or disabled people to continue to maintain them, so have a look for local schemes that can help with this or ask friends and family to see what they can do. Ideas include raising beds to a height that is easier to reach, improving access for wheelchairs around the garden, and finding specialist tools that are designed to make gardening easier.
Gardening is be a physical challenge, and so it can help to improve fitness and strength. Maintaining a home garden can mean anything from mowing the lawn, to repeatedly squatting up and down to plant flowers – all of which keeps you moving, maintains joint mobility and increases muscle strength.
As well as the physical benefits, it is also good for mental health as being outside and among nature can be relaxing and good for de-stressing. It helps to keep the mind active as well.
Top 3 gardening tips
1. Get the right tools
The right tool for the right job will make things easier. You can buy specially adapted tools to help you if needed, such as those with easier grips or longer handles.
2. Wear protective clothing
Proper gardening gloves can help protect your hands from getting sore, and it makes it much easier when handling tools. If you are using compost, then make sure that you wear a face mask, as this will help prevent Legionnaires’ disease, which can be contracted by breathing in small dust particles.
3. Adapt your garden
If you can’t manage your garden as it is, then bring in some professional help to adapt it so that you can get around easily and still look after it yourself. This could mean wider and smoother paving, raised beds or container gardening, where you plant flowers and vegetables in large containers that are easier to reach.
Age UK Pinterest board for gardening
Age UK maintains a Pinterest board dedicated to gardening, where it posts top tips for any season, as well as inspirational images.
Gardening for Disabled Trust
Gardening for Disabled Trust is a charity that believes that age, accident or disability shouldn’t stop people from enjoying gardening. They provide grants to people to help adapt their gardens so that they are able to maintain them themselves. Membership is required to apply for a grant, and the site recommends that people research the available options and visit gardens to get an idea of what is possible.
The website offers a useful catalogue of services, such as links to ergonomic gardening tools, specialist greenhouse and other options.
Thrive is a charity in the UK that is using gardening to changes the lives of disabled people. They aim to help people who want to garden at home, on an allotment or in a community setting.
The website offers tips for disabled and older age gardeners to help them in their own gardens, and Thrive also run a range of garden and parks projects nationally.