Gardening Safely with the Elderly

Gardening is a highly enjoyable pastime. Fresh air, sunshine, easy exercise, and the act of bringing forth a mouth-watering array of fruits and vegetables, or stunning display of flowers, and plants, brings a satisfaction that can’t be matched. Many people whose mobility has been compromised by illness, stroke, vision impairment or fragile bones, hang up their gardening gloves, resorting to store-bought tomatoes.  Before you throw in the trowel, examine some of the ways you can garden safely and avoid pain and injury.



Stay away from slopes and uneven ground.  Make sure you have a safe and wide path to your garden, and only walk on level ground.  Carry a walking stick, or footed cane, even if you’re ambulatory.  An ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth a pound of cure.

Bending and reaching can be difficult for some older folks.  Balance issues may arise if you’re working out in the sun, or have a hard time staying hydrated.  Raised beds are a wonderful solution.  Besides the landscape advantages of raised gardens, you no longer need to risk a hip fracture while keeping weeds at bay.

There are many garden tools and accessories that make maintaining your garden a breeze.  It’s not necessary to spend hours pulling weeds.  There are tools available designed to fit between rows and dislodge those pesky invading garden weeds.  Take advantage of them.

Avoiding Injury

Use a stool or chair to avoid bending or squatting and aggravating your joints.  Keep a bench and bottle of water nearby for hydration breaks.  Take things slow.

Don’t climb on ladders, stools, or any make-shift risers when gardening.  It’s easy to lose your balance, at any age, but especially if you’re balance, or gravity center is effected by medication.  Many medications common for chronic conditions cause dizziness, and dehydration.

Lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs is a wise choice for all who garden.  Stinging and biting bugs can take the fun out of your day real quick.  Also, eye protection and a sunhat are also a good idea.  Don’t forget sunblock on exposed areas.

Opt to work in the yard early in the day.  The early bird gets the worm-and the cool morning air.  Take advantage before the sun is too intense.

Have a Partner

Planting and maintaining a garden can be great therapy, both physically and mentally.  But, before you tackle the job of planting, weeding, fertilizing or harvesting, make sure your caregiver knows of your intentions.  If you tire easily, or falling is a risk, never garden alone. Having someone with you also gives you an opportunity to pass along your gardening tips, secrets, and wisdom.

Garden Like a Champ

There’s no reason, with a little forethought and planning on your part, you can’t continue to enjoy gardening.  Woo your favorite gal with a lovely homegrown bouquet, or best your buddy with a blue-ribbon beefsteak. There are still plenty of gardening days ahead.