Community Blog

Senior Care Safety - Staying Safe While Gardening

By Michael Hagman

Senior Care in Helena MT

The spring weather has finally arrived in most places and that means many people are starting to think about gardening. Getting out into the lawn and caring for flower beds, vegetable patches, or even just grass and shrubs is a fantastic way to encourage more activity in your senior care plan with your aging parent. Whether she does it with you or with her senior health care services provider, gardening encourages physical activity, cognitive processing, and memory use, while also boosting emotional health and creating a sense of accomplishment. It is important, however, to recognize the potential risks associated with gardening and make sure that your parent stays safe. This will help her to enjoy the entire season of fresh air, sunlight, and fun and preserve her quality of life.

Use these tips to help your parent stay safe while making gardening a regular part of your senior care routine with her:

Be aware of pollen counts. Spring is the time for seasonal allergies, and if your parent suffers from them it is important to be aware of the days when they may be at their worst. Pay close attention to the pollen forecast, as well as forecasts for other common seasonal allergens such as mold. These can tell you which days when these allergens are at their worst so that you can discourage your parent from heading outside.

• Practice sun safety. It may not be summer quite yet, but that does not mean that your elderly parent does not need to stay safe from the sun. Make sure that she wears proper sunscreen on all skin that may be exposed during her gardening. Encourage her to wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants to provide extra protection from the sun without getting overheated.

• Be aware of heat. The temperatures might not seem like they are soaring, but gardening can be deceptively strenuous. Make sure that your parent stays well-hydrated throughout the day and that she responds to her body's heat signals. If she starts feeling too hot or dizzy, she should sit somewhere cool and shady and recover.

• Protect her hands. Gardening gloves are an essential tool for anyone getting out in the lawn. These gloves provide protection from pests, thorns, sharp objects in the dirt, and blisters from tools and implements. Make sure that her gloves fit well and that they do not become excessively wet when gardening. If they do, replace them with a clean, dry pair to prevent skin damage.

• Use the right tools. Look for gardening tools that take your parent's limitations and challenges into consideration. Some tools are simpler to use, which can help a senior with pain, stiffness, or loss of range of motion due to arthritis and other concerns. Brightly colored tools help with low vision or confusion. Be sure to avoid allowing your parent to use dangerous tools and implements if she suffers from cognitive limitations or other issues such as weakness, range of motion loss, or balance problems.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Helena, MT, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (406) 438-2231.