Growing Healthier Seniors: Advice for Older Gardeners

senior gardening

Over the years, aging experts have continued to support the belief that gardening has many health benefits for older adults. The activity can help you stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit. The physical exercise of pulling weeds, watering containers, and digging in the dirt can improve and maintain joint health. Spending time outdoors in a natural setting can also help lift depression and boost feelings of self-esteem.

Aging does come with some changes that might make gardening a little more difficult. Those challenges can include vision problems, hip, back or knee pain and arthritis in the fingers and hands. Spending time in the sun can also put seniors at risk for sun-induced medication side effects including sun poisoning.

So what can you do to help stay safe in the garden?

8 Gardening Tips for Older Adults

Here are a few ideas you can share with the senior gardener in your life:

  1. Be mindful of the time of day before you head in to the garden. The worst time to be out in the heat is in the middle of the day. Most health experts say to garden before 10 am or after 4:30 pm.
  2. Wear a hat, sunglasses and a loose-weave, long sleeve shirt. They can help prevent you from getting sunburn or sun poisoning.
  3. Apply sunscreen at least every two hours. Senior adults often mistakenly believe if they apply sunscreen once in the morning they are set for the day.
  4. Stretch your muscles before you begin gardening. Think of this as a form of exercise you need to warm up for before starting. It’s the best way to help prevent strained muscles.
  5. If getting up and down on the ground is difficult because of joint problems or balance issues, have raised beds built in your yard. They allow you to garden at a height that is comfortable for you.
  6. Take frequent rest breaks. Every half hour is probably best. It can help prevent you from becoming overheated. Place chairs and benches throughout your yard to make that easier. Keep water with you so you can drink it on each of your breaks.
  7. Ditch the wheelbarrow for a wagon. They are easier to use for hauling tools, plants and soil around your
  8. The Arthritis Foundation has a great list of Handy Garden Tools that earned high marks because they are senior-friendly. Among them are long-handled garden tools and a water caddy.

We hope these tips make it easier for you to stay active and engaged with gardening this summer!

Are you a senior gardener in Michigan?
Do you have any tips to share with other older gardeners?