With the Great British weather vastly improving and the lighter evenings, it’s time we all started enjoying our gardens. If you have an elderly loved-one, a family friend or neighbour who has a garden that needs a bit of a makeover, we’ve put together some top tips for creating a space that’s age-friendly and can cater to their needs:
Health & safety is key
A garden should be safe for people of any age to use, but especially the elderly who are more prone to trips and falls.
Be sure that all surfaces are non-slip and there are no potential hazards such as twigs, tree roots or uneven slaps on pathways. The garden and pathways should also be checked for hazards such as leaves or twigs each time your loved-one is going to go out into it.
If your elderly loved-one is in a wheelchair then ensure paths are wide enough so they can move with ease along them.
Try to avoid using steps in the garden and keep raised beds to the side or end of the garden to help avoid the elderly walking into them. You should also avoid garden furniture with sharp edges as well as reflective surfaces.
If a loved-one is suffering with dementia then you could use clear signs to show them the different areas of the garden.
Make sure the garden is secure
Security is key to any garden and a garden should also maintain the homeowner’s privacy. Fences, shrubs and hedging are great for this and all gates or doors to sheds/outhouses should be padlocked to avoid break ins.
You can hang birdfeeders from trees, use bird tables or boxes to encourage them to the garden. Your elderly loved-one will enjoy watching them come and go to get food or build nests.
You can incorporate bee and butterfly-friendly plants such as buddleia and lavender to help encourage the insects to the garden and in turn, help the population, which is decreasing.
Include stimulating features
When planting in the garden, it’s a good idea to use plants that are vibrant in colour or have a great scent to help stimulate the senses. Nemesias, lavender and sweet peas are great plants for scent and colour.
You could also include a small herb garden with great smelling herbs such as mint, thyme and rosemary.
A water feature is also a good idea for a garden for an elderly loved-one as it can be very calming, but be wary of where you are placing it as you don’t want it to become a trip/fall hazard and add a safety cover if necessary.
If your loved-one or friend/neighbour is mobile enough, then maintaining the garden can be a great way for them to get some exercise and fresh air. It’s also great for the mind and body. You can read all about how gardening can help the elderly here.