As Evelyn advanced in age, the realization that she could no longer tend to her garden in the same way she had for decades filled her with a deep sense of loss. One day she was discussing this with her granddaughter, Sophia, who knew how much it meant to her grandma. Sophia talked with her mother about it and wondered if there was a way that the family could continue the garden and share in the hobby that meant so much to her grandmother. Her mother was so impressed that Sophia would take an interest in helping Evelyn with this project and she encouraged it. We had been helping Evelyn and her family manage her healthcare and recent diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, so I happily took Sophia’s call. She asked what she could do to help with her grandma’s desire to tend to her flowers. We agreed it would be good for Sophia to be at the house when I stopped by for my weekly home visit so we could review the needs of the yard and discuss what could be done to help Evelyn get her fingers in the dirt again.

When I met with Sophia, we took a walk in the yard and saw a lot of disrepair, weeds, and other concerns that made it clear that Evelyn should not be walking in the yard the way it was. Sophia agreed and said she would organize a clean up work party with the family to get the issues handled and then we would go from there.

About a month later, Sophia reached out to share that the yard was cleaned up. Several family members had met at the home and worked together over the previous weekend to get everything cleaned up and weeded. When I stopped by, I was amazed at what they accomplished. In their efforts they found a couple of planters that needed to be replanted and they had built a work bench for Evelyn and put one of the planters on it. One of the brothers was an engineer and his work bench was a work of wonder. He made it so that she could easily adjust the height of it so that if she needed to sit or stand, she was able to do so. The family had also built a ramp with a strong handrail in place of the steps from the house so that she could easily go from the house to the back patio.

Evelyn’s face lit up when she shared her opinion of the work, they had done for her and for a moment she had a tear in her eye. Sophia was going to plan a once a month visit to help Evelyn with the plantings and to follow her directions. I knew this time together was going to be priceless for both of them. Sophia would learn a new skill and their bond would strengthen even more. The family had also added a swing set to the backyard so that the great grandkids could swing and play when the family was visiting. This was fun and something for the kids to do. Her great granddaughter was a toddler, fascinated by the flowers and plants and wanted to get her hands in the dirt.

This was a great way for a family to come together to help their aging grandparent still have quality of life but at the level that she was able to manage. One day I stopped to see Evelyn and she was home alone with her caregiver. That was unusual as her family was usually in and out of her home while I was visiting. She shared with me just how much it meant to her that Sophia had noticed she needed help and took the actions to get the work done. She was mostly proud that her children and their children were willing to step up and help an older family member have what she needed. She was humbled by their love and connection.

Your aging loved ones do not have to leave everything behind that they enjoy. There are ways to help them continue doing those things and we’re happy to help arrange solutions in these situations. Please reach out if you have an idea to help your aging loved one and you’re not sure how to get it done.