As spring approaches, thousands of Americans are out with their hand rakes and spades to prepare for gardening. Gardening is a great activity for all. However, it can be especially beneficial for seniors. With numerous psychological and health benefits, gardening can be one of the most low-impact activities for seniors and those who suffer from slight physical limitations, memory issues, or who require different types of senior treatment.
The benefits of gardening for older adults are numerous. Studies have proven that low-impact exercise, like gardening, can dramatically reduce the risk for seniors of injuries and physical ailments such as osteoporosis. Gardening can help seniors maintain – or even improve their endurance and flexibility. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to relax and enjoy a relaxing, enjoyable exercise. It can be therapeutic as it helps ease the stress of unhappy or lonely seniors. Gardening can also be an opportunity to be a calming outlet for people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Safety and Advice for Care for the Elderly Gardeners
Of course, just like any exercise, older adults must exercise caution when they garden to avoid injury or exhaustion. To keep this in mind, here are some helpful tips to help your loved ones who are elderly have a growing green thumb.
- Limber up. Reduce the chance of cramps and joint pain by having your loved one take a stretch or warm-up an exercise before gardening.
- Select the Best Tools. Make sure your loved ones have the appropriate tools to lessen the amount of effort and joint strain generated by digging, raking, and many other tasks. Experts recommend strong, light ergonomic tools with soft rubber handles.
- Protect your hands and skin. Have your loved one wear sturdy gardening gloves to protect their hands from brambles, thorns, branches, and roots. Ensure they apply sunscreen before getting started to protect any exposed skin.
- Avoid Sunlight and Heat. To avoid sunburn, sunstroke, and dehydration, suggest your loved one plant a garden during the day or evening when temperatures are cooler and utilize shade. Be sure to keep them hydrated by drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks. Even when you’re inside a greenhouse with greenhouse plastic to protect you, don’t forget to put on sunscreen lotion.
- Make it easier to access. Be sure your garden is as simple to reach as possible. Beds raised and plots with a narrow width can ensure that your loved one is kept away from an uncomfortable position.
- Break down difficult tasks. Have your loved one broken tough tasks like pruning into five-minute pieces or taking breaks to unwind or do more easy tasks.
Gardening can provide physical, mental, or even spiritual rewards to people of all ages. Something very satisfying is wonderful about sitting outside on a warm day and soaking in the feeling and smell of the nature that surrounds us. As we get older, gardening can be more difficult than it was previously. Joints stiffen, making bending and pulling out weeds or planting seeds difficult. Arthritis can make it hard to dig into the soil and use a garden trowel. Other health issues can hinder a senior’s ability to appreciate gardening.