Gardening – A Senior Activity for the Body & Mind

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posted by Ted Ryan on April 28, 2016

Many seniors celebrate the arrival of spring by returning to their gardens. In addition to being a way to enjoy nature, gardening can also help seniors maintain their independence through benefits such as:

  • Increasing physical activity, which improves mobility and flexibility
  • Improving motor skills, endurance and strength
  • Reducing stress and promoting relaxation
  • Providing a sense of accomplishment
  • Promoting social interaction and reducing isolation

Despite gardening’s worthwhile benefits, there are age-related conditions for seniors to keep in mind.

  • Falls – Uneven ground and less familiar settings increase fall risk and potential injury.
  • Skin – Senior skin is more susceptible to cuts, bumps, bruises and sunburn.
  • Vision – Decreased eyesight can restrict activities.
  • Cognitive function – Seniors with dementia may become disoriented outside the familiarity of home (even in their own backyard). This can lead to wandering, getting lost and potential danger.
  • Body temperature – Seniors are less able to regulate body temperature, making it important to stay inside during hot times of the day and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

It’s good to be aware of these conditions, but they shouldn’t cause seniors to give up their healthy hobby. Modifications and precautions can allow them to safely continue enjoying time in the garden.

  • Prevent back strain by using raised beds or pots that can be brought to waist level.
  • Use lightweight tools that are easy to handle.
  • Find a shady spot to put a chair for resting and frequent breaks from the sun.
  • Tend to cuts, bruises and insect bites right away.
  • Never leave someone with memory issues unsupervised.
  • Garden in areas with flat, non-slip walkways. Always clear sticks, rocks and other hazards.
  • Prevent sun exposure by working early or late in the day. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen often.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and protective gear, such as garden gloves.

Home care can also help senior gardeners stay safe. Caregivers can remind seniors to drink plenty of water and make sure they are not outside in the heat too long.

If you or a loved one are interested in utilizing home care to continue an active and independent lifestyle, please contact us. An SHC nurse would be happy to perform a complimentary assessment to discuss our services and whether we might be right for you.   

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