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June 10, 2013

3 Ways Older Adults Can Garden with Ease

Gardening is a favorite pastime for many Kendal at Home members. Not only is tending a garden a wonderful way to beautify the exterior of your home, according to HCR ManorCare, it has a number of mental and physical benefits for older adults, too.

However, gardening can become more difficult with age, especially if you suffer from certain health conditions, specifically those that cause difficulty breathing. The good news is, a few minor modifications to how you approach gardening can remove some of the aches and pains gardening can cause for older adults who often have trouble bending, squatting, pushing, or lifting.

About.com Senior Living offers the following gardening tips for older adults:

Use the Right Tools

Pushing wheelbarrows overflowing with dirt and lugging around heavy hoes, shovels, and hoses is a young man’'s game. Trading in your heavy go-to tools for lightweight counterparts or making minor modifications to your current tools can make a big difference in your gardening.

  • Look for lightweight tools with resilient rubber handles and ergonomic designs
  • Make handles more comfortable by covering them with foam tubing
  • Add handle extenders to shovels and other gardening tools to reduce bending
  • Use a reacher to reduce stretching, reaching and bending
  • Use a small stool or bench to reduce kneeling and bending

If you haven’'t used them in the past, be sure to use gardening gloves to protect your hands and provide extra cushioning on tools. Gloves with leather palms or “rose gloves” that protect hands from thorns are the best for preventing injury.

Redesign Your Approach to Gardening

Just because you’'ve always approached gardening one way, doesn’'t mean it’'s the best way for an older adult. Now may be the time to reexamine and redesign your approach to gardening.

    • Garden in moderation – if you get tired, take a break and come back
    • Sync your gardening tasks to the weather forecast: Limit your exposure to midday sun, and try digging after rain showers when soil is softer
    • Make gardening a social activity by asking your spouse, children, grandchildren, friends, or neighbors for help

Change the Scope of Your Garden

In years past, your garden may have stretched for miles, seeming like a professionally landscaped exterior pulled straight from a movie. You may not be able to recreate your garden’'s expansive beauty of yesteryear as you age, but that doesn’'t mean you can’'t produce beautiful blooms on a smaller scale!

      • Consider replacing areas of your garden with easier-to-reach raised flower beds
      • Swap your traditional garden for flourishing window flower boxes
      • Try container gardening for ease and accessibility
      • Replace some of your garden or grass with no-maintenance pebble stones or wood chips to enhance your space

For even more suggestions on how you can remain active, download “Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine

Remaining Active

photo credit: madlyinlovewithlife


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