As you age, your body will become less able-bodied for outdoor activities, including gardening. Sitting on your knees to trim the branches, pulling heavy water hoses around and fertilizing the plants seem to become more difficult than you ever think.
However, as gardening is a healthy activity for old age, you shouldn’t give it up. You can reduce the intensity of the workload and follow our tips below to stay safe and happy with gardening.
The benefits of gardening for seniors
Did you know that your green thumb can be more than just a hobby? Getting your hands dirty in the garden is the most effective way to enhance your physical and emotional health. Why do I say so?
Gardening embraces physical movement
A garden may not look like a gym, but you actually do a lot of exercises in a single gardening session, including lifting, squatting, bending, without even recognising it. 30 minutes of gardening everyday, which is similar to moderate aerobic workouts, is a good way for aging bodies to shed some calories and stay flexible.
Your immune system is improved
Studies have pointed out that the dirt you dig while gardening is actually beneficial to your health, thanks to a kind of bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae. This human-friendly bacteria can enhance your immune system, alleviate asthma, allergies, psoriasis, and depression.
Also the sun is a free source of vitamin D that strengthens your bones and boosts your metabolic functions.
Stress and anxiety walk out of your life
The link between gardening and positive emotions is well-known among us. Planting and growing veggies and flowers in your garden can help reduce the cortisol level, in other word, the stress hormone.
Nothing will make you feel happier than walking in the morning breeze with light sunlight in the garden. Sunlight will boost serotonin levels in your body, making you feel calm and focused.
Your mind will stay sharp
Gardening may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%. Seniors who do gardening everyday tend to maintain their good memory and motor skills, while their strength and endurance take a turn for the better.
Tips to build a elderly-friendly garden
Healthy and beneficial as gardening seems to be, there are things that senior gardeners should take into account. The squatting, bending, lifting, pruning can be overwhelming sometimes, and in the worst case, can lead to serious injuries.
The sunlight is wonderful but the heat can burn the skin since aging bodies have more sensitive skin. Not to mention the bugs and insects in the garden that might disturb you.
However, if you equip yourself well with our tips, you will stay safe and happy with your little yard.
Lower your goals:
As the body ages, we don’t have the strength and endurance like in our twenties. So don’t stress yourself to finish all the work in one day. Pace yourself, take a rest when you need to. Place a bench, a chair or a swing in a shadow so that you can sit down and rest between sessions and to admire your masterpiece.
Use proper tools
Opt for lightweight and manual tools to avoid injuries. If you can still mow a lawn, a cordless electric self-propelled lawn mower is a good choice since you don’t have to push it yourself and unlike gas mowers, it is quiet, environmentally-friendly and requires little maintenance.
Also, paint your tools in bright colors so that you can find them easily when dropping them on the ground.
If you find it hard to handle and wield your tools, wrap foam around the handles to reduce the joint pressure and control easily. Padded kneeling benches, tools can be used to avoid kneeling on the hard ground and rolling scooters make it easier to move tools and work well as a chair.
Raise your garden higher
If bending and kneeling are nightmares to you, try raised beds to grow your flowers and veggies. Make sure that the raised beds are narrow enough so that you can reach every inch of it without straining.
If possible, go for a vertical garden by using fences, walls, bamboo stakes or trellises. Caring, watering and harvesting will be much easier for those who suffer from aching back and knees.
Protect yourself from the sun
The recommended time for elderly gardening is early in the morning and shortly before the sunset when sunlight is gentle and it is cool outside. However, if you are not an early bird and you want to enjoy the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat and put on sunscreen to avoid sunburn.
Keep yourself hydrated during the session and avoid staying outdoors from 10 am to 1pm since it is the hottest time of the day.
Ask for the help of a younger member of your family for heavy lifting, grading and lifting. This not only reduces the risk of you being injured but also enhances the relationship with your family.
If you don’t have a garden, join a club or a community in your neighborhood. You can enjoy your hobby, at the same time, making your street greener and cleaner.
Remember that aging is just a number
There is no rule that you should do this and that at an age. If you feel happy with gardening, just go for it. Don’t let your age get in the way of your happiness. But also keep in mind that safety is the top priority. Thank you for reading and happy gardening!