Monday, August 07, 2017

Gardening Tips: 5 Safety Tips and Techniques for Senior Gardeners

Older adults need regular physical activity to maintain their mobility and health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week combined with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. 

Gardening is a great way to meet the minimum required physical activity for older adults as it not only keeps seniors moving, but it also contributes to maintaining muscle strength. While it’s important to encourage your elderly loved one’s gardening hobby, it's also crucial that they should ensure their safety while out in the yard.

Benefits of gardening for seniors
Gardening brings a wealth of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits for the elderly. It’s a great physical activity that can improve your flexibility and mobility. Moreover, research shows that physical and visual access to nature helps people recover from illness quicker, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. While it improves hand strength, gardening can also improve a senior’s self-esteem.

You can get a sense of satisfaction from watching your plants flourish, as well as a feeling of accomplishment. Gardening also enables seniors to become more social, especially if they tend to their plants with a relative or a few friends. However, it’s important to keep yourself out of harm’s way while enjoying this pastime. It’s important to take some active steps to keep seniors safe while gardening, and following these tips will enhance your gardening experience while protecting you from minor and major injuries.

Paint garden tool handles with a bright color
The bright color will make it easier for senior gardeners to easily locate tools. Try painting trowel handles, hand forks, secateurs, shovels, and the like with hot pink, cherry red, or bright yellow paint to make them stand out among the greens. Make it a point to protect your back by using a wagon with large wheels instead of a wheelbarrow to carry and transfer plants and tools.

Dress to protect yourself
Protecting your skin from the sun, insect bites, and chemicals is important when you’re gardening. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun, and wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to protect yourself from insect bites. It’s also important to wear gardening gloves if you’re handling chemicals while gardening. To protect yourself even further, use insect repellent containing DEET to keep mosquitoes and ticks away, and slather on sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Drink plenty of water
Gardening can make seniors extremely thirsty, so drinking water while doing this activity is crucial to avoid dehydration. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea while gardening, as these can dehydrate you even more. Instead, keep a bottle of water within easy reach and take frequent sips while gardening.

Garden early in the morning
It can be extremely hot between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so seniors should make it a point to garden early morning or late in the afternoon.

Pace yourself and take frequent breaks
Once you begin working in your yard, change your position every 20 minutes and take frequent breaks. This way, you won’t overexert yourself while gardening, and you can go back to working in your yard the next day.

Seniors should follow these tips to keep safe while gardening. Not only will you protect yourself from harm, but following these techniques will make gardening more enjoyable and fulfilling in the long run.

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