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Gardening Benefits for Seniors with Right at Home Australia

| Ageing

As the weather warms up, those of us with a garden or even a sunny indoor ledge can locate those evasive gardening gloves and head for the fertiliser. Gardening for the elderly and those living with a disability is a great way to remain active and engaged in one's home. 

In a 2020 study published in SAGE Open Medicine examining the relationships between home and community gardening and older adults self-reported psychosocial and physical wellbeing, researchers Theresa L Scott, Barbara M Masser and Nancy A Pachana found that participants attained positive therapeutic benefits.

“Good functional health is a profoundly important factor in older Australians’ ability to remain living in the community with good quality of life,” the study begins.

“Successful aging theories suggest that gardening shares common components of activities proposed to increase quality of life, such as social engagement, productive endeavours and exercise. The benefits of gardens are also linked to the restorative properties of nature. Simply being in or near nature has potential well-being benefits for older adults. Therefore, active involvement in gardening should accrue benefits.”

The study concludes that its participants experience several psychological, physical and social benefits via regular contact with nature in their gardens.

While gardening is great for the elderly, precautions must be maintained to ensure the health and safety of all avid gardeners. The Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel provides us with some useful considerations.

Some physical, mental and age-related conditions must be considered when older people work in the garden.

These include:

  • Fragile, thinning skin makes older people susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn
  • Changes in the eye lens structure, loss of peripheral vision and generally poorer eyesight can restrict activities
  • Mental health, thinking and memory abilities may be affected by dementia and similar conditions
  • Susceptibility to temperature changes and a tendency to dehydrate or suffer from heat exhaustion are common concerns with outdoor physical activity for older people
  • Falls are more common because balance is often not as good
  • Osteoporosis and arthritis may restrict movement and flexibility

Garden spaces, tools and equipment can be modified or adapted to help reduce the physical stress associated with gardening for older people.

Suggestions include:

  • Using vertical planting to make garden beds accessible for planting and harvesting – try using wall and trellis spaces
  • Raising beds to enable people with physical restrictions to avoid bending and stooping
  • Using retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and containers on castors to make suitable movable and elevated garden beds
  • Finding adaptive tools and equipment – these are available from some hardware shops
  • Using foam, tape and plastic tubing to modify existing tools for a better grip
  • Using lightweight tools that are easier to handle
  • Providing shade areas for working in the summer months
  • Having stable chairs and tables to use for comfortable gardening
  • Making sure that there is a tap nearby or consider installing a drip feeder system for easy water

Safety tips that older people (and their carers) should follow include:

  • Attend to any cuts, bruises or insect bites immediately
  • Take care in the use of power tools
  • Secure gates and fences if memory loss is an issue
  • Ensure that paths and walkways are flat and non-slip
  • Warm-up before gardening and encourage frequent breaks
  • Prevent sun exposure by working in the garden early in the morning or late in the day, and wear a hat and apply sunscreen frequently
  • Drink water or juice and avoid alcohol
  • Wear protective shoes, lightweight comfortable clothes that cover exposed skin, a hat and gardening gloves
  • Store garden equipment safely

If you or someone you know needs help in the garden, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can assist with all kinds of in-home care. Right at Home is an approved provider of Home Care Packages and provides disability support and some of the services we provide, may include assistance in the garden. 

So, from all of us here at Right at Home, enjoy the garden and don't let your age or physical ability impact that pleasure!

Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links:

Australian Government Department of Health

Victorian Health and Human Services

NSW Health

Queensland Health

ACT Health

WA Department of Health

Tasmanian Department of Health

Northern Territory Department of Health

SA Health

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no admin or subscription fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget.

Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government-approved, home care provider for levels 1-4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite caredementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one.

To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website.

Right at Home Offices in Australia: Sydney Lower North Shore; Sydney Upper North ShoreSydney Central and Eastern SuburbsSydney Northern BeachesSydney NorwestSydney The HillsPadstow St GeorgeMacarthur PenrithNewcastle; Hunter & Port StephensSouthern NSWToowoomba- Darling DownsSunshine Coast and Gympie; MackayCentral QueenslandTownsville; Far North QueenslandGold Coast SouthGold Coast NorthNorthern RiversBrisbane BaysideBrisbane SouthBrisbane NorthBrisbane WestPerth MidlandPerth Northern Suburbs; Perth West CoastKalgoorlie WheatbeltMoreton Bay RegionSydney Inner WestSydney RydeGreater Logan


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