As a senior citizen, you know how important is to remain active. Being able to go outside to enjoy the fresh air is a great feeling, and a great way to get your daily dose of the great outdoors is gardening. Gardening has many unexpected health benefits and has been known to relieve stress, act as a moderate form of exercise, and even help to cope with depression! While it has a number of great benefits, tending to a garden can put a lot of stress on the body, particularly as we age. Thankfully, there are a lot of great tools and gadgets that make gardening a safe and fun activity for people of all ages!
- Choose plants wisely. Choosing plants that are easy to maintain and able to withstand a variety of conditions is essential for an easy gardening experience. This ultimately makes gardening less strenuous overall. Plants that require the least amount of attention and maintenance include French Lavender, which is a beautiful, fragrant, and low maintenance plant that doesn’t require much water.
- Use perennials instead of annuals. Planting perennials is recommended because you won’t have to worry about planting more of the same plant each year. If they are properly cared for throughout the season, they will grow back the following year.
- Think about timing. Timing is important when it comes to gardening. Work early in the morning or later in the evening because these times tend to be cooler and you’ll avoid the harsh summer heat. Also make sure to work in shade as much as possible during a sunny day, and take breaks as you feel necessary to prevent overheating.
- Garden small. For a more manageable project, try container gardening, which is essentially planting into a pot or a container of your choice. This is beneficial for the elderly especially because the garden can be placed virtually anywhere, and easily accessible at all times. Remember to use light weight containers for extra-easy handling.
- Small Seat. Use a stool or a chair that will save your legs from having to squat down and plant.
- Tape Seed. This handy tape is made from biodegradable paper and contains seeds that are already perfectly spaced out, saving you time and energy.
- Marked Tools. Make the handles of each gardening tool stand out from each other for easy identification. Wrapping colored tape around them is an easy solution.
- Handle Grips. Use tools that are lightweight with longer handles that have some sort of grip to them. This will help prevent arm, shoulder, and back injuries and make use easier for those with arthritis.
- Garden Caddy. Using a garden caddy with wheels makes it easier to store tools and transport them from one area to another. Make sure the caddy is lightweight and easy to carry or push through grass and dirt.
- Watering Gear. Use a hose to water your plants to avoid carrying around a heavy watering can, which can cause injury to the back, arms and shoulders. Find a hose head that has a number of settings to make watering as simple as possible.
Whether in a backyard or window boxes at a nursing home, senior citizens of all walks of life can take part in the activity of gardening this season safely and effectively. Always remember to know your limit and stop when you get tired, but most of all, have fun and enjoy all the benefits of gardening!
About the Author
Ruth Folger Weiss is a blogger for West Gate Hills Rehab, a Baltimore, MD nursing home and senior care center.