Gardens for the Young at Heart

Posted December 5, 2019 in Landscape Design, Landscape Maintenance

As we move through life, we all try to remain active with the hobbies we enjoy the most, and that certainly includes being outside enjoying the warm rays! As we all know, aches and pains can creep up on us if we’re not taking care of our health and getting proper exercise. That’s why horticultural therapy or “hort therapy” is so popular in senior living facilities and developments. Gardening for seniors is a great way to get that outdoor exercise because most of those moves imitate yoga poses, and exercising by doing simple squats or bends to reach those budding bloomers will keep everyone agile.

Health Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

Being outside for longer periods of time ensures pure enjoyment of the fresh air and the feeling of sunshine on the skin! The benefit of this, your lungs take in more oxygen, and the sun is the best source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D has many benefits, including preventing osteoporosis, cancer, depression, and muscle weakness!

It stands to reason that those who get a good dose of sunshine every day are less stressed. There’s just something about getting dirt under your nails that has a pleasing effect on our souls. Gardening gives a calming effect by lowering levels of cortisol that induce stress, high blood pressure, and even glucose levels in the blood. While cortisol levels lower, the serotonin kicks in to help the brain feel calm, ultimately creating a good mood! And of course, that’s why they say, ‘gardeners are the happiest people!’ We couldn’t agree more!

Gardening for seniors also helps to lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimers by requiring hand and eye coordination and sensory awareness. These gardening activities will also increase the brain volume and gray matter that coincide with lower levels of agitation and aggression in dementia patients.

Of course, you may not be in this vein of thinking if you’re still young and agile, but many people in middle age are finding themselves caring for elderly parents and want to have an outdoor space that everyone can enjoy and spend time together. Looking ahead and creating an adaptive outdoor living space takes a specialized and educated designer who not only understands what plants can give the senior members of the family sensory stimulation, (including smell and touch), but how the outdoor living space as a whole needs to be designed and constructed for seamless transition, easy access, and less obstacle! Achieving outdoor living accessibility requires detailed strategy and honest craftsmanship, which are outdoor living solutions that MasterPLAN Outdoor Living handles on a daily basis!  Custom-tailored plans are guaranteed to awaken enjoyment and creativity for your loved ones as well as yourself.

 

Creating Adaptive Gardening for Seniors

Seamless Transition

The first step in creating a beautiful and functional outdoor living space for the whole family to enjoy starts with the transitions from inside the home.  Often, you will find that homes in our area are not initially built with aging in mind, so it is our duty to amend to fit our needs.

MasterPLAN strongly believes in and implements seamless transitions too as many of our projects as possible.  While this concept is self-explanatory, a seamless transition means that we design and construct spaces so there are no staircases, step-downs or obstacles to contend with when moving from inside to outside.  This concept helps not only the more distinguished members of the family but also the younger ones who are not so sure of their steps yet. Pets surely enjoy not having to worry about the transition either!

Seating

“Take time to stop and smell the roses!” We’ve always heard this quote, but unfortunately, we don’t apply it. Why not add benches and attractive seating that is beautiful and comfortable to rest and enjoy the outdoors? Adding garden seating next to a bright display of annuals or a water feature will keep us outside longer, which is the whole idea, now isn’t it?

Gardening Accessibility

Bending over or getting on the knees may trigger some help. Comparatively, raised beds can be accessed more easily from a wheelchair, if needed. The same would be true for container gardens and flower boxes in window wells. Making the height accessible to the gardener gives plenty of agility for digging deep in the soil and enjoying the process of planting, watering, and tending!

Vertical gardens on the side of a wall-hung at just the right height and lighting requirements are an easy way to enhance the outdoor gardening experience and add to a senior family member’s excellent health benefits from being outside! Hanging baskets are also a good piece of real estate to add color and activity for young and old alike! The grandkids and grandparents can both enjoy the activity of watering, planting, and fertilizing together!

Garden paths can be tricky if proper width and surfaces are not adaptable for canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, but they are not out of the question!. Be sure to talk to your outdoor living design specialist about all options when it comes to design, materials and low maintenance upkeep! MasterPLAN certainly has plenty of creative solutions to bring everyone closer together and give young and young at heart a good dose of hort therapy!

Reinvent Your Space for Years to Come

If you have an outdoor living space that is not put to good use or you have found that doesn’t serve your current or future needs, we would love to partner with you to create an adaptive and custom master plan for everyone to benefit from and enjoy. Here at MasterPLAN Outdoor Living, we understand the importance of being outdoors and designing spaces that bring family and friends closer together. They say, ‘aging slows down when you’re in the garden,’ and we couldn’t agree more! When you’re ready to open the conversation about the potential for your own versatile backyard, reach out to MasterPLAN!  We would love to help uncover what your outdoor space can mean for all members of your family, and help you all live your best lives outdoors!

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