Gardening is an activity that seniors can enjoy and has multiple benefits. Along with the joy of watching the plants and vegetables grow, gardening is a great way to get in some daily exercise and it can be a morale booster as well. As safe as gardening may seem, there are precautions that seniors need to take while tending their gardens. The following smart tips can help keep you out of harms way with confidence.
Wear the proper attire
Gardening exposes the skin to chemical, sharp tools, bugs, and the sun so what you wear, really matters. Even on cloudy days, you want to protect your skin. Dermatologist recommend the application of a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF (sun protection factor) and one that is water resistant. Care Village has a good list of the Best Sunscreen for Older Adults.
Long sleeves and pants will help protect you from ticks and other harmful insect bites. The added protection of an effective insect repellent and comfortable gardening boots to tuck the leg of your pants in is also suggested. Protection for your eyes and ears, if using loud machinery, is recommended as well. Gloves and a wide brim hat are a must.
Gardening may be more strenuous than realized. If you haven't been exercising on a regular basis it is wise to take things slow. Changing your position and activity every half hour or so with 10 minute break in between the switch can cut down on injury and fatigue. The pushing, pulling, bending, and lifting encountered while gardening can cause soreness, especially if you overdue. Remember the importance of knowing and listening to your body and make adjustments accordingly.
- Be sure you are up to date on your Tetanus shot. Tetanus thrives in the soil so be sure you've had one within the last ten years before digging in.
- As one ages the sensation of being thirsty diminishes. Dehydration is common concern for seniors and when you are spending extended time in high temperatures adequately hydrated is imperative. It is recommended that you have a container filled with a water that you sip from throughout the day. Always be sure to have a healthy snack prior to gardening especially if you are diabetic.
- Ladders and climbing are discouraged. It is very easy to lose your balance, elevating the risk for falls and injuries.
- Be aware of the signs and symptom of heat related illness and what to do in such emergencies.
- Check with your physician to be sure there are no concerns which may impede your safety, such as a medications side effect or one that is sun sensitizing.
- If you are solo gardening, it is wise to have a cell phone handy or even better a medical alert device to call for help in the event of an emergency.
Always consider the time and energy gardening can entail. Certain plants require more time and maintenance than others. Do some research ahead of time so you can decide if your chosen project is one you can tackle alone or one you will need the help of an assistant.