gardening and outdoor labors of love

Grow with Me: Gardening Safety for Older Adults

Is gardening growing on you?  If so, it’s with good reason; studies show that gardening in your golden years can improve your physical and mental health.

While gardening may be enjoyable, it is not without challenges.  Many older adults face physical limitations that can make gardening difficult.  Without making necessary accommodations, these plant-based challenges could put your loved one’s health at risk.  Before your loved one gets into the garden, consider making some small but significant changes to make this a safe activity for them.

garden

accessibility

Not all gardens are created equal.  While traditional gardens may be physically prohibitive for older adults, there are many simple modifications you can make to help ease the stress of this activity for your loved one.

 

  • Set up a potting bench for your loved one so they have a dedicated area for their gardening; make sure that soil and other heavier items are stored at waist height so your loved one doesn’t have to struggle to lift them.
  • Give vertical gardening a go! Vertical planters can allow your loved one to enjoy tending to their plants without the discomfort of having to bend over or kneel. 
  • Invest in a gardening bench or kneeler so your loved one can easily plant flowers in beds along their property.
  • If your loved one is struggling to grip their gardening tools, wrap a thick layer of foam around each handle, or consider investing in ergonomic gardening tools.
  • Make sure your loved one has access to a cart or wheelbarrow so they can transport plants and gardening supplies without hassle.
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gardening

safety

Gardening can be a great way for older adults to get in their daily exercise!  While it may seem like light work, gardening can actually be a very strenuous activity.  If your loved one wants to get into gardening, talk with them about some safety tips prior to getting out in the yard!

 

  • Talk with your loved one about scheduling their gardening activities in the morning to avoid the midday heat.
  • Set up a bench somewhere shady in your loved one’s garden. Encourage them to take breaks while they’re out and about so they can rest and enjoy the fruits of their labor!
  • Make sure your loved one has a water bottle they can keep with them while they’re working in the garden – carve out some space for it by the door so they always remember to grab it!
  • Keep your loved one protected from the sun! Leave cans of sunscreen around your loved one’s home so they can apply it regularly before headed out.  Make sure they have lightweight, long-sleeved gardening gear to wear to protect their arms and legs from sunburn and scratches.
  • Help your loved one pick out some low-maintenance plants for their garden; this will allow them to take breaks throughout the week without worry that their plants with perish!

social

gardening

  • Gardening doesn’t have to be a solo project.  Older adults often benefit from social connection, so gardening can be a great way of getting them involved in their community!

     

    • Consider helping your loved one connect with a local community garden; this can provide new social opportunities for them while keeping them engaged in something they love to do.
    • Garden with your loved one! Have younger family members or neighbors swing by regularly to help them with any heavy lifting or other strenuous yard work. 
    • Check to see if there’s a gardening club in your loved one’s community; consider attending a few meetings with them to help them get and stay connected with their neighbors!

social

gardening

  • Gardening doesn’t have to be a solo project.  Older adults often benefit from social connection, so gardening can be a great way of getting them involved in their community!

     

    • Consider helping your loved one connect with a local community garden; this can provide new social opportunities for them while keeping them engaged in something they love to do.
    • Garden with your loved one! Have younger family members or neighbors swing by regularly to help them with any heavy lifting or other strenuous yard work. 
    • Check to see if there’s a gardening club in your loved one’s community; consider attending a few meetings with them to help them get and stay connected with their neighbors!

lawn

care

  • Older adults most often struggle with lawn care.  This work is physically taxing and can take hours to complete, leaving your loved one in the sun for far too long.  Minimizing your loved one’s workload can help them enjoy gardening without too-strenuous of labor.

     

    • Have an automatic sprinkler system installed in your loved one’s lawn to make watering their yard easier.
    • Hire a yard service to help your loved one do heavy-duty maintenance; have them stop by regularly to mow the lawn and trim any trees or hedges that are getting unruly.
    • Replace your loved one’s lawn with some evergreen groundcover, flower beds, or paths. This can lower the amount of overall maintenance your loved one has to do to keep their yard looking lush.
    • If your loved one has memory problems or is prone to wandering, build a fence around their yard to help keep them in a safe area.
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Gardening can be relaxing!

Gardening can be a great way for older adults to pass time, but it is not without its challenges.  If you’re struggling to get your loved one set up to be successful in the garden, consider reaching out to our staff here at Beverly’s Daughter for help. We will contact you within 48 hours with a customized plan of action for supporting your loved one.  Aging doesn’t have to be a pain – let us help your loved one live their best life well into their golden years.

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