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Activity Directors - Nat'l Garden Week : June 6-12 - See the Direct Path to National Board Certification - N.A.P.T. Course Starts June 1st


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Celebrate National Garden Week June 6-12th, 2021!
The healthy benefits of gardening for seniors cannot be overstated. Research studies have consistently shown that physical, mental and emotional improvements are but only a few examples of the benefits of gardening. There is an innate sense of control over one’s environment and the task of cultivating new plant growth is often predictive of good health and higher quality of life among the elderly.

The benefits of gardening for seniors include:
  • Exercise and burning calories. Planting and pulling weeds can help you burn 200 to 400 calories an hour. Gardening gets the body moving by requiring some bending, squatting, stretching and pulling.
  • Muscle-strengthening. You don’t have to push around a heavy wheelbarrow to keep your muscles from weakening. A few hours of gardening per week will give you the workout you need.
  • Vitamin D. While you don’t want to overdo it, a few hours of exposure to sunshine will give you more vitamin D than your nightly glass of milk.
  • Stress-reducing. Gardening increases hand-eye coordination, which helps to keep the brain and body in sync. It also lowers stress-producing cortisol levels and raises serotonin; a calming chemical in the brain that puts you in a good mood.
  • Decreases risk of dementia. The physical demands of gardening and critical thinking skills regarding what to plant and how to take care of it keeps the mind active and engaged.
Adaptive Equipment
Some elders may need a little help to comfortably take on the physical tasks required to garden and there are many ways to alleviate or reduce some of the physical challenges that come with the territory, regardless of whether you suffer from arthritis, back pain or are confined to a wheelchair.

Here are some suggestions that should help minimize the physical challenges of gardening as well as some tips on better gardening practices:

Raised Beds
Middle-aged backs easily get stiff and sore if they're not given the proper care. Waist-high raised beds are one way to eliminate bending altogether. With tall raised beds, seeding, weeding and harvesting are a snap. But beds that are only 1' or 2' off the ground can make gardening easier on the back too.

Vertical Gardening
Cucumbers, squash, melons, beans and many other vegetables grow well when trellised. Patrolling the garden for bugs, spraying and harvesting are all easier when everything is within close reach.

Kneeler Stool
A kneeler stool has a thick foam pad that's comfortable on the knee joints. And it has hand grips that make it easier to get up from a kneeling position, since you can use your arm strength to help you stand. Once you're up, flip the kneeler over and it becomes a comfortable stool to sit on while tending your plants.

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/easier-gardening-for-seniors
Safety Outdoors
Being outside for even a few minutes can be a hazard, especially in later years, follow some simple outdoor safety guidelines.
  • Wearing sunscreen. Even when the sun doesn’t feel especially hot, ultraviolet rays may lead to red and burning skin. Severe sunburns can be serious.
  • Latching gates and repairing damaged fencing. This will help keep unwanted animals out. Securing the area also is important if memory loss or wandering is an issue.
  • Keeping a first-aid kit handy. Tend to cuts, bruises and insect bites as soon as possible.
  • Storing all gardening tools in their proper place. Spades, trowels, rakes and the like can be tripping hazards. Take special care when handling electric and battery-operated power tools.
  • Knowing your limits. Especially when you’re outside gardening in hot weather. Take needed rest periods and encourage ample liquid consumption to keep your residents hydrated.
Gardening Tips
No matter what you plan to plant, set yourself up for success by following these tips:
  1. When planting outdoors, determine what works best in the sunlight or shaded areas of your garden. Flowers, fruits and vegetables grow differently in various soils.
  2. Have a water source nearby to more-easily irrigate plants if they are not getting enough rainfall. A light watering can or hose is perfect.
  3. Add 2-3 inches of mulch around each plant to help keep moisture from evaporating and pests at bay.
  4. Plant food or fertilizer may or may not be necessary, but if you use it, go organic!
  5. Tools to have on hand include a spade, hand trowel, clippers, gardening fork and thick gloves.
  6. The health benefits of gardening for seniors don’t stop once everything is planted. Make sure the garden is “senior-friendly” by setting out comfortable chairs or benches underneath shady areas. Rest and check out the scenery!
  7. Tend the garden in mornings and evenings when the temperature is cooler.
  8. Wear gardening gloves, solid shoes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  9. When you are watering and pulling weeds in the hot sun, be sure to stay hydrated! Drink a lot of water.
Meaningful Engagement All Year Round
Bring the Memories of outdoor Garden success indoors in the winter. Plan to bring the outdoors back inside when the cold weather season returns. Create programs to dry the past summers garden bounty of spices to keep throughout the winter months to sprinkle and make food tastier.

Plan programs that dry cut flowers from your summer garden to craft beautiful framed flower art for the walls to remind your residents of their personal garden success stories as an avid gardener.

Potpourri
Create a potpourri mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant materials, used to provide a gentle natural scent. It is often placed in a decorative bowl. The word "potpourri" comes into English from the French word pot-pourri.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXdTuNuLcbM

Sachet Bags
You can also make scented sachets bags to collect those wonderful summer scents to promote sensory engagement.  A small scented cloth bag filled with herbs, potpourri, or aromatic ingredients. A sachet is also a small porous bag or packet containing a material intended to interact with its atmosphere; for example, desiccants are usually packed in sachets which are then placed in larger packages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sDylb2Y4Iw
Have a topic request or question for Celeste? Send them over to celestechase@activitydirector.org
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Activity Directors Network was founded in 1996 on the idea that we could help create elderly care that dramatically improved the lives of those we all serve. We envision facilities that feel like homes and that celebrate our resident’s individuality and allows them to live with dignity, purpose and joy. We believe the exchange of education and wisdom between the most talented teachers and passionate students is the way to make an impact. Each and every single one of you are the revolution that is changing everything. Thanks for being a part of The Network.
 
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