Ah, the joys of retirement! For most people who have worked outside the home most of their adult lives retirement must sound like music to the ears. More and more often now, women also work outside the home. They have spent years building homes and raising children with their husbands. So it follows that both of them are looking forward to a little extra time on their hands. When it finally comes, many enjoyable pastimes present themselves. Not the least of these is leisurely time in the garden. However, this usually means they are both a little older now, and some may even be on their own. Perhaps you are looking after an elderly relative and you want to make sure they enjoy their garden in safety. You will be happy to learn, that with a few precautions and adjustments safety in the garden for older people is not that difficult. Here at Gold Age Australia, it is our pleasure to pass on some helpful hints to assist you with safety in the garden for older people and the elderly.
When we think about Safety in the garden for older people and the elderly, the main issues are the following. Mobility, eyesight, balance, sunburn, cuts, insect bites, falls and the like. Since the old adage about prevention versus cure still holds true, let us see how many preventions we can put into place.
A visit to the nearest plant nursery or garden centre will not be wasted. This is because you will discover that they have become aware of the older gardener. Furthermore, television and technology have become the modern day educators. Never before has so much information been available to us. This has led to the development of new products. So take the time to look at everything on offer and then make the right choices for your loved one’s garden. Tables on wheels, large planter pots, trellises, hanging baskets, lightweight hoses amongst others will contribute to easier manoeuvrability.
Very importantly, rearrange the garden into sections. That means a smaller area that needs tending on a regular basis. One area needs to be transformed into a low maintenance zone with hardy plants subsisting on rain and dew. Native plants are wonderful for this reason.
If your elderly loved one has a somewhat reduced eyesight, things need to be brought up closer to eye level. Raised garden beds, solid benches, lightweight gardening tools with good gripping capabilities placed within easy reach will be very helpful. Further, ensure they are wearing the correct glasses and that they are cleaned regularly. Remove all clutter from the ground and make sure paths are flat and safe. Offer to help them with any liquids such as fertilisers or insecticides. Also, keep all drinks entirely separate from chemicals.
If your elderly loved one has any problems associated with their balance, you need to take particular care. For instance, perhaps this has to do with their hips, their spine or their blood pressure. Talk to the doctor and ask their opinion first. Make sure they wear the correct footwear, take their medication regularly and that they don’t do too much in one go. Ensure there is comfortable seating close at hand. Also, tables to lean on and rest things on offer great support. Avoid anything that will require them to bend, overreach or crouch down. Adequate hydration is essential. And canes or walking aids should be within easy reach at all times.
When we think of sunburn prevention, we assume that the usual precautions will suffice. The application of sunscreen, a hat and loose fitting cover-up clothing are generally what come to mind first. However, heat exhaustion needs watching too. Regular breaks, not gardening during the hottest part of the day and coming inside if fatigue sets in are important. Headaches are a sign to watch for in the prevention of sunstroke.
Other than that, and because they may not be aware, check them for cuts, scratches insect bites and thorns. These need immediate attention. Use disinfectant and the appropriate creams and don’t be afraid to take them to the doctor if necessary. There’s that ounce of prevention again.
Happy gardening from all of us at Gold Age Australia to you and your elderly loved ones.
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