Gardening at home can be a good way to get your life back after a stroke. In fact, compared with traditional rehab methods, gardening has been seen as a more occupation-based intervention to help stroke survivors improve functional performance. At times, referred as the horticultural therapy, gardening is gaining more attention as a way to reduce pain, improve attention, lessen stress, modulate agitation, improve self-esteem and lower the medication intake and the frequency of setbacks after stroke.
That being said, there are special challenges to gardening after a stroke. No matter how much you want your backyard (or lawn) to be maintained with neat flower beds and fresh plants, dealing with the heaps of yellow leaves, poor lighting and scraggly shrubs could be overtiring. The good news is that maintaining an aesthetically-planned garden is not impossible, even with stroke-led challenges. Here, we have a step-by-step guide to overhauling your garden or backyard after stroke. Initially, a gardener can begin to pick out the necessary items for you. If not physically, you could verbally guide him/her to finish physical tasks.
As with any new exercise program, you should start new gardening activities slowly and build up endurance over time. Before working in your garden begin with some gentle stretches recommended by your occupational therapist. Even a few minutes of gardening each day will exercise your hands, fingers, and arms. This is why taking frequent breaks and switching up gardening activities is important.
Ensure easy navigation
Asking Gardner to widen and pave garden paths will make it easier for you to navigate with a wheelchair or walker. Ask him to use no-slip and no-glare paving materials and make sure the paths are laid evenly. You can ask him to raise the beds of your garden so they’re easy to reach from a seated position in a wheelchair.
Instead of plain brown or terracotta pots, you can select colorful planters. Placement and positioning of the pots also play an important role in lending a neat and elegant look to the garden and helping you move smoothly.
Be mindful of plant colors
Tell your Gardner that you want plants in bi-colors or ones that have varying shades of green. He will help you out with seeds. You must choose plants from both the seasons so that the garden never loses its beauty. To brighten the garden in the night, planning white flowers is a must.
Use ergonomic tools
Adding a basket to your wheelchair is a convenient way to carry your gardening tools out to your garden. Ergonomic, lightweight tools will allow your strongest arm muscles work while decreasing the strain on your wrist. Use hand tools with cushioned grips and arm supports for digging, pruning and weeding so that you are enabled to hold them longer and more comfortably. Ensure to use:
- A lightweight watering can with flat sides that is easy to grip.
- A good tool belt.
- Super Shovel that has added “grab” for digging and the reinforced handle that absorbs shock and reduces fatigue.
- Houses that are lighter and kink resistant.
- A large stand-alone dustpan for cleaning up the fallen leaves.
- A seeder for planting seed.
If you are more mobile, you can try kneeling stools. They are lower and are more comfortable than kneeling on the ground.
Extend the indoor décor theme
Once the garden is set up and plants start growing up, it’s time to take care of the aesthetics of your backyard or lawn.
The walls of the garden can be painted with the colors used in the house. If you do not have the budget for painting, take gardener’s help to create hedges with the taller plants to hide the old walls. The use of mosaic can create some pattern in the garden. Asking your caregiver to put up a roundtable, umbrella, stools, folding patio set can be a great addition to your revived garden.
Accenture its beauty creatively
Using a mirror in the garden has many benefits, especially when you need to watch yourself while moving around. Mirrors can be utilized best when there are lots of plants growing around so that they blend in with the background.
In daylight, the garden may look beautiful, however, a string of garden lights is needed to accentuate its beauty in the evening. Ask your caregiver to creatively hang the string over the wall, hedges or big trees. A few hanging lanterns will make your garden look livelier.
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).