These tips can turn gardening into an easier process for seniors who want an enjoyable, convenient way to stay active and busy as they age.
Gardening is an enjoyable form of mild-to-moderate exercise that is ideal for seniors who want to stay active, mentally stimulated, and physically fit. Seniors who garden can also benefit from reduced stress, improved well-being, and access to nutritious, home-grown herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
The easier gardening can be for seniors, the more likely they’ll want to engage in this fun activity that exposes them to fresh air, sunshine, and nature and that keeps them healthy for years to come.
Keep reading to gain tips on making gardening easier for older adults and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center to learn more about its healthcare and caregiver support services for seniors.
Buy User-Friendly Gardening Tools
Arthritis and joint pain are common conditions among seniors that can make even the simplest of gardening tasks more difficult and painful. Look for gardening tools with soft foam grips and accessories such as foam kneeling pads that can make gardening tasks more comfortable and easier to perform.
Choose Tolerant, Easy-To-Grow Plants
Choose plants that are relatively low maintenance and tolerant of many different weather conditions. These are ideal for seniors and beginner gardeners. Plants that require lots of special care and maintenance can sometimes be overwhelming and cause beginner gardeners or your senior loved ones to lose motivation and optimism about their new hobby. Ask the employees at your local plant nursery to recommend and help you choose plants that are easy to grow and maintain.
Build Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds can be easier to manage and access by seniors who want to avoid bending and crouching repeatedly in their gardens. Consider building beds that are high enough to manage while standing or surrounded by wooden planks wide enough to sit on comfortably while tending the garden.
Consider Using Multiple Small Containers
Large pots and containers can be heavy to lift, while large garden plots can sometimes be overwhelming to manage. Consider growing a series of plants in small pots and containers, which are often far more manageable. Smaller containers can also be easily and conveniently carried indoors during weather conditions that threaten plants or when seniors decide to brighten their home with certain flowers. Start with multiple small containers, then upgrade to larger containers and garden plots when ready.
Install Good Lighting
A well-lit gardening area can help prevent falls and injuries caused by stepping on stray tools, mounds of dirt, and other outdoor debris. Install bright lights where appropriate, including motion sensor lights if your senior loved one stays out late gardening after dark.
Include Lots Of Comfortable Seating
Place comfortable chairs, stools, and benches in various garden parts where seniors can rest and relax when they need a break. If possible, try to place seating near colorful flower beds and other peaceful areas where seniors can enjoy the fruits of their labor and hard work.
Create Wide Pathways
Narrow sidewalks and pathways can be difficult for seniors to navigate, especially if they use canes or walkers that require more space. Ensure all pathways in the garden are wide enough to accommodate these types of medical supplies for seniors. The paths are easily accessible at all times.
Use a Wheelbarrow
Wheelbarrows are a gardening staple that can transport large amounts of loose materials like soil, weeds, and stones far easier. Look for wheelbarrows with features such as large rubber wheels that can help decrease stress and tension in the shoulders and back.
Ditch the Watering Can
Watering cans can be heavy to carry around and difficult to use, especially when caring for plants in hanging baskets and raised beds. Spills from watering cans can also create hazards that increase the risk of slipping and falling. Replace your watering can come with a high-quality garden hose and nozzle you can use for all your plants and garden beds.
Decide Between Long-Handled vs. Short-Handled Tools
Many handheld gardening tools are made with either short handles or long handles. Short-handled tools are easier to use when kneeling and sitting down, while long-handled tools may be easier to use when standing up. However, long-handled tools are usually heavier and require more strength in certain situations, such as working with firmer, harder soil. Take time to evaluate whether your senior loved one would benefit more from using long-handled or short-handled tools depending on their strength and health conditions.
Create Shade When Working In the Heat
Set up an outdoor tent or canopy when your senior loved one works in the garden during hot summer months or in the sun for long periods. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to dehydration than younger adults due to changes in fluid content and body composition and lack of thirst sensation. Choose pop-up tents and canopies that are easy to erect and take down and won’t take up too much room in the yard.
Add mulch to your soil to reduce the amount of time you spend watering plants and to avoid the burden of having to carry around a heavy garden hose or watering can. Mulch preserves moisture, so you don’t have to water your plants as often. It also offers other benefits, including improved plant health and fertility and fewer weeds.
Avoid purchasing wet mulch—which is heavy to carry—and buy dry mulch instead. Or, cover your soil with newspapers instead of mulch before watering your plants to cut down on extra gardening-related costs.
Invest In Perennials
Consider buying perennial plants that bloom year after year, so you don’t have to buy new plants every season. Perennials offer numerous benefits, such as improving the structure and health of surrounding soil, are great at drawing up moisture, and ultimately prevent you from having to spend time replacing them with new plants.
Where To Find Caregiver Support and Healthcare For Seniors
Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a family caregiver support network. It is home to many medical providers who can evaluate and treat health conditions prevalent among seniors. Visit our provider page today to make an appointment.