Dr Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father of the United States of America, provided a well known quotation.
“It has been remarked, that the maniacs of the male sex in all hospitals, who assist in cutting wood, making fires, and digging in a garden, and the females who are employed in washing, ironing, and scrubbing floors, often recover, while persons, whose rank exempts them from performing such services, languish away their lives within the walls of the hospital”.
We don’t talk too much these days about treating ‘maniacs’, and females are allowed to garden now, but it is an early mention of the benefits of “occupational therapy.”
I have been doing some research lately on behalf of a friend who is recovering from a stroke, and is a keen gardener.
Although he will need help in the garden in future, doing some forward thinking so he can get around and work in his garden will mean he gets outside and enjoys some useful activity. The Garden Hopper, which I wrote about in another post, started me off on my quest.
There is some excellent information on the web, so this post is by way of being a resource to help others who are searching for useful tips.
There is so much more to this topic than raised beds for easy access and tools with a big grip and longer handles, though these are important. Plants might be selected for scent, colour and texture. A greenhouse might have wheelchair access for all year enjoyment.
- The whole area of gardening for mental health and physical well-being is fascinating. The American Horticultural Therapy Association has an excellent website and this field is becoming an important profession. Universities and Colleges offer degrees and certificates in this area. You can read more here
- In the UK, the Flowerpot man has written some good notes on garden design for the elderly here
- The UK charity Thrive has some excellent pages on this website.
- The American website Garden Fountains provides some food for thought here; I particularly like their ideas about adapting your own tools to suit the purpose. It isn’t always necessary to go out and buy stuff.
If you are looking to buy suitable tools, one starting point might be the garden tool company Wolf Garten. They make a range of interchangeable heads for different jobs. Handles vary in length. They are available throughout Europe and also on Amazon.com.
When it comes to disability, planning for the needs of the individual is the most important thing. No two people’s requirements are the same so be as imaginative as you can.