When you’re young, you can bend over and stoop while gardening for hours and not feel strained or stressed at the end of the day. If you’re the caregiver of a senior, it’s important to create the right environment for gardening so it can be enjoyed and maintained. Waist-high raised beds are one way to eliminate bending altogether. With tall raised beds, seeding, weeding and harvesting are a snap. Sometimes beds that are only 1′ or 2′ off the ground can make gardening easier on the back too.
Products that can enhance the garden experience for seniors are available on the internet and in home improvement stores as well as specialty gardening stores. Read below and find important necessities, tips and tools for senior gardening.
KNEELER STOOL – A kneeler stool has a thick foam pad that’s comfortable on the knee joints. And it has hand grips that make it easier to get up from a kneeling position, since you can use your arm strength to help you stand. Once you’re up, flip the kneeler over and it becomes a comfortable stool to sit on while tending your plants.
Tips on kneeling: When you squat down in the garden to weed or do other chores, never let your heels lift up off the ground: that puts a strain on your ligaments. Instead, keep your heels on the ground. If that’s not comfortable, try kneeling with just one knee down.
PRUNING SHEERS – Ergonomic pruners, which are specifically designed to be easy on the hands, often have comfortable handles and gears that make cutting easier. Some handles can actually rotate as you cut, which reduces the strain placed on your hand muscles.
Make sure you purchase pruners that are the right size for you. Test for length by holding a closed pruner in your hand. The handle should stick out about a half-inch below your little finger. Test the width by placing them in your hand with the pruners open. With one handle in the crook of your thumb and your hand comfortably extended, your little finger should extend about a 1/4″ beyond the other handle. If you can’t reach the handle with your fingertip, your hand won’t be able to rest properly between cuts.
Tips on pruning: Prolonged pruning can be especially problematic if you hold your hand incorrectly or if you don’t have a good pair of pruners. When you’re pruning, always hold your hand so your wrist is in a neutral or straight position. Grip strength is strongest in this position, and you’ll use less exertion to cut or prune. Never bend your wrist down at an angle; you not only lose strength but you’re also more likely to develop tendinitis.
Even with good tools and equipment, it’s important to take breaks every now and then and to rotate tasks. Alternate pruning with raking every 15 minutes or half-hour, or alternate hoeing with hand-weeding so you’re working different sets of muscles. Happy Gardening!
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Herndon, VA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today. (703) 982-0050.
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