Gardening is an activity that is ideal for the elderly. It allows them to keep their bones strong and their joints nimble, it exposes them to sunlight for several minutes a day, and it is good for the mind.
However, as they grow older, gardening presents new risks for injury. Big stones or uneven ground may cause seniors to trip and fall. Bending over to dig out a weed or pick a flower may lead to back pains and hip problems. And, when it rains or it is time to water the plants, the ground can be muddy and slippery.
Keeping the garden safe is important to ensure that your loved one can move around freely without getting hurt.
A Garden Safe for Seniors
Falling is one of the most common reasons why older adults are sent to emergency rooms and hospitalized. Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four seniors falls.
In some cases, it leads to death.
To prevent falls, you should create even paths that are free from any item that may cause trips or slips. A pea gravel walkway is easy to maintain. It creates an efficient water drainage system and removes the need for sloping. In a garden where a senior can wander, sloping is not ideal.
Stones that are small feel the most comfortable on the feet. Although large stones will stay put even after a storm, it might feel unpleasant and inflict deep wounds when a senior falls on it.
Any item lying on the path should be removed. Hoses should be stored properly when not in use. If it is left on the ground, it may cause trips and falls. The same should be done with any garden tools. Put it back where it came from immediately after use.
Having a raised bed would also minimize injuries. It makes reaching plants and soil far easier. The gardener does not have to bend over to tend to their crops. It also helps with pest control.
Small and Easy to Maintain
Consider which plants get planted in the garden. If it needs a lot of attention and care, it does not belong in a garden being tended by seniors.
Keep it easy to manage, especially if your loved one has mobility issues. While it is recommended that everyone, including seniors, get ample physical activity every day, it should not be too exhausting. The garden should not be difficult to grow.
Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, spinach, and herbs are only some plants that are easy to care for and provides a generous yield of healthy vegetables, too.
The Right Gardening Gear
What an older gardener wears outside matters.
Every time your loved one goes outside, you should ensure that they are wearing the right types of clothing. With aging comes increased sensitivity to changes in temperature. If it is hot outside, they might suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If it is too cold, hypothermia is a real risk.
Seniors should also always wear gloves. Getting an infection from gardening is a possibility. Tetanus bacteria can enter through cuts and wounds. Legionnaire’s disease might be present in stagnant water.
In addition, a hat would be a good idea. It reduces the glare from the bright daylight.
Protection from the Sun
With a garden, older adults will have to go out a lot and be under the sun for longer periods of time. Wearing sunscreen should be a habit.
The ultraviolet rays that come from the sun can raise the risk of skin cancer among the elderly. It would also cause painful sunburn.
Although they need a dose of vitamin D to remain healthy and strong, they should apply sunscreen throughout their body.
Handy Gardening Tools
There are tools specifically developed to make gardening easier and more accessible to people who may have mobility issues, including the elderly.
A no-bend weed puller is a tool that, as the name suggests, allows the gardener to pull weeds out of the earth. However, the task can be done while standing up with this inexpensive tool.
A seating scoot enables the gardener to tend to their plants while comfortably seated. A kneeler bench, which makes kneeling on the ground less painful, is another option for chores that need to be performed at ground level.
Seniors should also consider bringing a panic button so that, if an accident occurs outside, they can immediately call for help.
Gardening is a great activity for seniors. It offers a ton of benefits for the body and mind. No one should be barred from enjoying it despite the risks of injury.