By: Duane Pancoast
You can take an interest in gardening as a child and continue that interest all through your life. Or you can take an interest in gardening at any point during your life. Perhaps the biggest gardening myth is just now being busted: that seniors have to give up their favorite activity when age starts catching up with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can stay one step ahead of old age by continuing to adapt to compensate for our new challenges.
You may have heard of the Aging-in-Place movement. Businesses are springing up to provide services that help seniors keep living in their homes for as long as they can. The outdoor component of that movement is called Adaptive Gardening. And that’s what I write about in a blog called thegeriatricgardener.wordpress.com.
At age 82, I have a wealth of experience to draw on, as well as a growing amount of information on the internet, primarily from Extension Service sites. Conditions that create a need to adapt include mobility limitations and arthritis; cardiopulmonary and respiratory conditions; and sensory problems, such as fading vision and memory loss. Limited mobility caused by arthritic joints, especially knees and backs, seems to be what leads to most adaptive gardening.
The whole idea of adaptive gardening is to enjoy your garden more than you enjoy gardening. That means reducing the amount of work needed to maintain it. You don’t have to be a certain age to begin adapting. Gardeners in their 40s and 50s who are planning garden renovations, might consider incorporating adaptations for the future into their plans. Construction costs aren’t going down.
There comes a time, though, when aging gardeners need help. I’m all for asking family and friends, particularly children and grandchildren, for help. Working together can be a bonding experience. Who knows, it may become a new, lifelong passion for the younger family members, and a source of future GardenComm members.
Those who don’t have family willing and able need to hire outside help. In many areas of the country, finding a professional gardener can be next to impossible. There are many landscape professionals but most don’t offer gardening services. This niche could be a good opportunity for those GardenComm members who offer garden installation and maintenance service to develop another profit center. Be forewarned, however, the client will probably want to work alongside doing the jobs that they can handle. They are doers, not just watchers.
About the Author: Duane Pancoast is a garden blogger and speaker who has just written a book titled: The Geriatric Gardener, Adaptive Gardening Advice For The Senior Gardener. He has been a member of GardenComm since 1985.