Accessible gardening for seniors: New service from Lifelong Home, LLC

Accessible gardening for seniors: New service from Lifelong Home, LLC

Lifelong Home LLC has added garden evaluations to one of the many other services they provide to seniors in our community. The Beaverton home accessibility company evaluates the home environment and gives recommendations for safety and fall prevention. Founded in 2012 by Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Regina Ford, the company’s mission is to enable older people to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible.

Many of Lifelong Home’s clients are not only concerned with their indoor accessibility but also being able to get around in their yards and gardens. The company can offer many ideas and options that can make gardening easier. There are techniques, tools, and tips that allow people to keep gardening despite health challenges. “Creating and maintaining their outdoor space is very important and they don’t want to give that up due to physical changes that come with aging,” according to Ms. Ford. She is trained as a Master Gardener and also has a background in home health and assisted living care.

There are many benefits to staying active outdoors.

Some of these are: reducing stress, exercising, breathing fresh air, increasing concentration, boosting energy levels, maintaining strength and flexibility and creating beautiful and edible plants. Among Americans over age 65, walking and gardening (or yardwork) are, by far, the most popular physical activities. According to the National Gardening Association, 35 percent of U.S. households grow food either at home or in a community garden. This means that two million more families are involved in gardening now, up 200 percent since 2008.

There are many ways to improve your outdoor experience as you age.

The first item to consider is how you get to your yard or garden. Are there many steps? Do your steps have a handrail? Do you need a ramp? Once you get to yard level, are there accessible paths to take you to different points in your yard or garden? Are they accessible for a wheelchair or walker? Gardening in raised beds or tall containers can eliminate the need for so much bending over or squatting. There are also garden seats and carts that can be used for sitting while working. Special long-handled tools are now available to make digging, raking and hoeing easier.

Special consideration should be given to the garden lay-out, the hours of sunlight in various parts of your yard and where your water sources are located. Special techniques such as vertical gardening and espalier of fruit trees can be explored. Safety should be taken into account as well. Do you have your cell phone with you in case you fall or get locked out? Are you wearing sunscreen and a hat for UV protection? Do you take frequent breaks and make sure you stay well hydrated? All of these tips are important if you want to stay gardening into your 80s and 90s.

Aging in place

Staying in your own home as you age is referred to as “aging in place” and the professionals who assist people with this are called Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). They are trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders on examining the home and providing ideas for remediation of trouble areas. Ms. Ford received her CAPS training and was certified in 2011 and has been observing the continuing education requirements of her field since that time.

If you have any questions about your garden’s accessibility, call Lifelong Home for a thorough evaluation. At the same time, you can have your home examined and get recommendations that could help you avoid falls and stay living at home for many more years. You can also make this suggestion to your parent or grandparent and even pay for the evaluation as a gift.

For more information, contact Regina Ford at 971-404-4418, or visit www.lifelonghomellc.com