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COVID-19: Sow the Seeds of Happiness for Older People in Care Homes

COVID-19: Sow the Seeds of Happiness for Older People in Care Homes

While some areas of society are gradually emerging from the shadows after weeks of isolation due to the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping the world, care homes and older people continue to shield themselves from the outside world until a solution is found. This may be a breakthrough in medication to halt the deadly symptoms or a vaccine, whichever comes first.

Most people are bearing up to the disruption extremely well, however with the warmer weather and the sunshine beckoning, why not try to capture a little of the ‘dig for victory’ spirit and start your own gardening project? You don’t even have to have a garden to do so, a few tubs or trays are all you need to get some seedlings started. Research has also shown there is some correlation between deficiencies of vitamin D and higher cases of COVID-19, so even more reason to get out there if you can.

There are so many benefits too:

  • Getting out in the sunshine will increase your vitamin D (a couple of hours of sun will give you more vitamin D that a glass of milk).
  • Helps reduce stress and gives a sense of wellbeing. Weeding, planting etc are good, repetitive actions that allow the brain to ‘switch off’ from stressful thoughts. It raises serotonin, a ‘good mood’ chemical in the brain.
  • Pushing, pulling and bending are all good forms of exercise. Planting and pulling weeds can help burn off 200-400 calories an hour.
  • Planning and organising what you are going to do and how helps keep the brain working well and can decrease the risk of dementia.
  • Gives a sense of satisfaction; that neat row of seedlings or weed-free patch is all down to you and may draw compliments from others.

Sometimes older people can often shy away from gardening due to having a weak grip and unsteady hands. They may find it difficult to use a hand trowel or fork, but our range of Easi Grip gardening tools can be a real help. They are specially designed with ergonomic handles that are easier to hold and can help reduce sprains and blisters. For added stability use with the Arm Support Cuff. This slots onto the gardening tool and gives more strength to push and dig.

Even if you only have a small garden area or none, you can still achieve a little garden by doing the following:

Vegetables and Herbs

For a fun activity, why not have a go at our Adult Cocktail Herb Kit? It contains everything you need to grow a variety of tasty herbs that can be made into cocktails. Perfect for busy activity staff as there is little preparation needed – makes 12 pots and can be enjoyed with social distancing or individually if self-isolating.

Or why not grow some peas in a pot up a tripod of canes? Peas will only grow a few feet upwards and are quick to germinate. The large seeds are easy to handle and will sprout in only a couple of days. Residents will love to pop the pods and it can lead to reminiscence conversation about childhood days and helping mother with the meals.

Small cos or butterhead lettuce grow well in tubs or troughs and will be ready to pick within a few weeks. For extra speed, mixed salad leaves are ideal and the varied leaf shapes and colours can be very attractive. As long as they have plenty of light and warmth, they can be grown by a window (you won’t suffer slug damage either!)

Radish seed will germinate within 2/3 days given light and warmth. Why not give everyone their own 6” pot and 6 seeds. The seedlings will be ready to eat in about 3 weeks.

Flowers

Marigolds (or Calendula) are a firm favourite with everyone, their cheerful faces come in a wide range of vibrant tangerine and are so easy to grow. Seeds are not too small and will germinate without any trouble. Once flowering, pick a few heads and sprinkle over salads or if dried, they can make a natural yellow dye.

Lavender is a lovely aromatic flower that needs a warm, sunny spot to grow well. Bees will flock to the plant and the flowers can be dried and used in little bags to scent drawers and repel moths.

If residents are unable to get outside, why not hang some attractive garden decorations on a nearby tree? Wind spinners can add interest to a plain tree, or hang a bird feeder and watch the antics from a window with some binoculars. The ever-changing activity will keep boredom at bay and will provide interest even when it’s raining.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

For added horticultural enjoyment, tune into the BBC for the start of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from Sunday 17th May. Although the COVID-19 outbreak has sadly caused this year’s cancellation of the public show, there is still the Virtual Chelsea to enjoy. This will include tours of award-winning nurseries, daily videos from well-known presenters, competitions and a wealth of beautiful blooms and ideas. Click on the link below for more information:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/virtual-chelsea

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