Gardening for Seniors
It’s a great time of year to plant flowers or vegetables, and gardening can be a fun thing for seniors to do—no matter if it’s in their own yard, or as part of a community garden somewhere. Whether home care provider or family member, there are things you can do to help make a gardening project more worthwhile for them.
It’s important to realize that gardening can take time—some projects more than others—so make sure your loved one understands the commitment involved, primarily if they’re planning something large or very detailed. It would be a shame to invest the time and expense of getting it set up, but then watch it languish because it can’t be kept up with. Here are some other tips to make gardening for a senior citizen more fun and safe.
- If kneeling, bending, or lifting is a problem, there are tools and equipment on the market that can make the work easier on an aging body.
- If doing a lot of digging, encourage them to dig after a rainfall when the soils is softer. This will save wear and tear on their body.
- Remember sun safety when working in the garden: Early morning or later in the day/early evening are the best times to work in the garden and tend to flowers and other plantings.
- Sun safety includes clothes that are suitable for gardening, including gloves, a wide-brimmed hat, sturdy shoes, and sunglasses; and sunscreen on all exposed body parts, including lip balm. They should also use insect repellent.
- Consider raised gardening beds to make harvesting or maintaining easier and to create better drainage.
- If creating paths and walkways, make them wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.
- Chairs, swings or benches can be added near trees to offer shady areas in which to sit and enjoy the sites, smells and sounds of the garden.
- They should take frequent breaks while gardening so their body has a chance to “catch its breath;” they should also make sure to stay hydrated, preferably taking bottled water outside with them and drinking frequently.
- If your loved one is unable to garden outdoors, they still might appreciate a small sampling of nature provided to them in some way. A small area of flowers could be planted outside a window for them to see. You could also bring the outside in: Some small potted plants could be placed on a window ledge; bring some indoor plants to them; or make a terrarium inside for them to enjoy. It’s low- to no-maintenance, but they can still be somewhat involved and appreciate what Mother Earth has to offer.