If you are a senior who enjoys gardening or the adult child of an older gardener, you’ve no doubt witnessed the benefits of this favorite pastime. The hobby can have a positive impact on gardener’s mental and physical well-being.
From lower rates of depression to stronger core strength, gardening is a hobby you can continue to enjoy in later life if you take a few precautions.
In honor of National Garden Month, we are sharing tips you and your senior loved ones can use this spring and summer.
6 Ways to Stay Safe in the Garden
Arthritis can make standard garden tools tougher to use. A pair of pruners might be harder to manipulate when joints in the hand are swollen. Bending and kneeling can increase the fall risk for a senior coping with balance problems caused by a medication side effect.
While health conditions like these do make gardening more challenging, there are steps you or a senior loved one can take to stay safe:
- Take Time to Warm Up: Many of us forget that gardening is hard work! As is important with any form of exercise, take a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles and joints before you begin digging.
- Invest in Raised Garden Beds: It isn’t uncommon for older gardeners struggling with balance problems. Some give up gardening altogether for fear of falling. If kneeling, bending and getting up and down from the ground are difficult, raised flower beds can be a solution. Many online garden stores sell inexpensive kits. Local home improvement stores are options for having one custom built.
- Use Long-handled Garden Tools: Another helpful safety tip is to work with gardening tools that have a long-handle. 17 Tools for Accessible Gardening has a comprehensive list of garden tools designed for all types of physical conditions.
- Paint Tool Handles: Vision loss and problems with depth perception are more common in seniors. Both can make finding the garden tools you set down in the yard more difficult. One quick tip to help them stand out is to paint the handles with neon-colored paint.
- Ditch the Wheelbarrow: Instead of struggling to push an often heavy wheelbarrow around the yard, invest in a wagon. They make it easier and safer to move around the garden because wagons don’t require the senior to do any lifting or pushing.
- Install Garden Benches: Being able to take frequent breaks is another way to keep an older gardener safe. Install a variety of garden benches and chairs throughout the yard. They can improve the aesthetics of the garden while providing the senior with a place to rest.
Finally, work in the yard early in the morning and later in the afternoon when the temperatures and humidity are typically lower. Keep a bottle of water with you and drink from it often. These practices can help keep you and your senior gardener safe this summer.