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Gardening for Seniors: Tips, Tricks, and Benefits

Summary: Known to reduce stress, inspire brain activity, and even foster community ties, gardening for seniors is a great activity with many different options. The benefits of gardening for seniors are found in many different aspects of life. Elderly gardening can help you learn a new craft or hone old ones. Estimated Read Time: 16 mins

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Table of Contents:

  1. How Does Gardening Help the Elderly?
  2. Safe Gardening Tips for Seniors
  3. Gardening Help for Seniors To Get Started
  4. Gardening Clubs for Seniors Can Provide a Great Sense of Community
  5. Common Gardening Injuries for Seniors
  6. Medicare Coverage for Gardening Injuries

Gardening for seniors is a great pastime that can have a plethora of benefits. For many, gardening is an interest that offers a wide array of goals and objectives. Serious gardeners may plan to use their garden for all of their fresh produce needs, while hobby gardeners may be more interested in flowers and decorative plants for their yards. This is perfect as senior gardening can provide something for everyone, no matter their activity level.

There are mental and physical benefits for seniors gardening. You may even find that gardening in your golden years can bring a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to engage within your community. However, there are also several risks involved.

Each year, thousands of people are injured doing yard work and gardening. So, as attractive as the benefits of gardening for seniors might be, there are still several risks that can come along with it. Understanding these risks can help you find appropriate gardening activities and avoid mishaps that may be harmful to your health.

You don’t need to have a massive space or the greenest of thumbs to take on gardening. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just looking for a new hobby, make your golden years a little greener in all the right ways with our gardening tips for seniors.

How Does Gardening Help the Elderly?

Keeping your mind, body, and spirit moving each day provides a wealth of benefits, and gardening for seniors is an activity that can help exercise all three. Studies have shown many different health benefits of gardening for seniors, and they extend more than just more than the physical labor that comes along with it.

The benefits of gardening for seniors have proven to be positive in the following ways:

  • Physical Benefits: Elderly gardening can help promote physical activity. This may present a challenge for some, but the beauty of horticulture is that there are many different types of gardens and activity levels available. Either way, getting up and moving can help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer.
  • Mental Health Benefits: From a mental standpoint, senior gardening has been shown to help decrease depression and even inspire nostalgia. The touch of plants and smells can help provide comforting triggers back to one’s childhood. Elderly gardening also helps reduce stress. Additionally, studies are showing promise that even easy gardening for seniors can help improve memory and brain health.
  • Socialization: It doesn’t matter if you like to stick to yourself or spread your wings as a social butterfly. Human beings generally benefit from social interactions. Gardening benefits for seniors include the opportunity to make friends and socialize within the community. In the modern world, this can mean online, in-person, or both, and because horticulture is a hobby you can do alone or together, you can choose the frequency of interactions as you grow.

As you can see, there are several tangible benefits that seniors can gain from gardening, even at lower to moderate levels. But all of the health benefits you may gain from gardening can be for naught if you suffer a serious enough injury. The hobby is only truly beneficial when the proper safety steps are in place.

Safe Gardening Tips for Seniors

Every year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports just about 400,000 people report to the emergency room each year for gardening and lawn-related accidents. It may not always be serious, but any time you require medical care, it’s a reason to pause and evaluate your actions.

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The risks to the elderly population can be even more significant. As you age, you become more prone to falling, issues with coordination can arise, and smaller medical issues can escalate quickly into more significant problems.

Safety is always the top priority when engaging in any activity, and gardening for seniors is no different. Here are some of the most common injuries by seniors gardening and tips on how to prevent and treat them:

Back Pain

Gardening involves plenty of movements, big and small, that can affect joints and other parts of your body, but especially for those with frequent back pain, this can be an issue. A healthy activity. Nevertheless, the benefits of senior gardening can be quickly erased if you do too much and injure your back.

Your Medicare coverage will help cover lower back pain management when necessary, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to avoid the issue altogether in the first place. Implementing some of the following tips can help you give your back a break while gardening:

  • Stretch beforehand.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks.
  • You’ll need knee pads and other gear to help you take some of the pressure off your body.
  • Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy. Never be afraid to ask for help, and if you must lift, always do so with your legs.

Cuts and Scrapes

They are the most common injuries sustained when gardening, regardless of age. With or without tools, working the land with your hands can lead to cuts, scrapes, and bruises, no matter how careful you are. Be sure you exercise caution when using gardening tools, particularly those that are sharp, pointed, and/or have a motor.

Experiencing a laceration that is deep enough could require immediate medical attention. Failure to do so can be dangerous as you shouldn’t be bleeding, of course, but you also run the risk of becoming infected. This can lead to further, more severe complications.

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Cuts that are 1 mm deep and 1 cm long or have had pressure applied for 10 to 15 minutes and are still bleeding should receive medical attention at the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

Your Medicare Part B coverage will help cover this type of healthcare, but you may have lingering costs. To avoid these, you may want to look into a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as a Medigap plan.

Tendonitis, Carpel Tunnel, and Osteoarthritis

The aches and pains that come from a life well lived can be exacerbated by gardening. Everything from staying on your feet too long to having to apply pressure when using gardening tools are great ways to take some of the joy out of a prosperous hobby if you’re not careful. But when the pain becomes too much, medication is often required.

You can cover the costs of your prescription drugs by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage (MAPD) or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. However, getting ahead of the problem is always a better option. Here are a few tips to mitigate pain:

  • Some tips are universal. Stretching, staying hydrated, taking breaks, and taking care of your body is going to go a long way here.
  • You’ll also note that taking advantage of knee pads and adaptive wheeled devices helps you not have to burden the load alone. Braces can also help.
  • From easier grips to longer-reaching designs, there are gardening tools for seniors that are specifically designed for those who may face such complications. Shop around and find the right tools for your horticulture project to avoid the experience turning into a painful one.
  • You’re also going to want to simply listen to your body. Carpel tunnel can flare up when you repeat the same movements. Don’t forget to switch things up from time to time and make adjustments when your body tells you to.

Heat Stroke and Other Related Illnesses

Growing your garden can often mean going outside during the warmer parts of the year. This means the risk of becoming overheating is ever-present and can hinder not only your hobby but also cause a detrimental risk to your health. There are many helpful hints you can deploy. Here are a few helpful reminders:

  • Avoid doing work during the peak hours of heat. Even if you stay hydrated, which you should regardless of the time of day, working in peak hours is a recipe for disaster.
  • Plants generally love the sun. So, working in the shade isn’t always realistic. But having a shaded area to take breaks is a great way to still enjoy the outdoors, albeit in a safer manner.
  • Alcohol only complicates the problems that come with the heat even further. It can also lead to other problems stemming from coordination. All-in-all, if you’re a senior guarding, you should avoid drinking while gardening.
  • Those with medical conditions that may make them more susceptible to heat-related illnesses should explore indoor and less labor-intensive gardening options.

Gardening Help for Seniors To Get Started

One of the hardest things about gardening is to simply get started. There are a lot of different types of gardens and things to do so it can feel overwhelming already. While learning new skills is part of the fun, gardening for the elderly comes with unique considerations.

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Lifestyle and health obstacles may make some forms of gardening less realistic, more risky, or even less attractive. Thankfully, there are several options. Horticulture is for everyone. Here are a few elderly gardening ideas to help inspire your own:

Easy Gardening for Seniors

These are your golden years. There’s no need to overcomplicate anything if you don’t want to. Several gardening techniques are going to be easy to implement and provide you with a satisfying end product. Apply these easy gardening for seniors tips to start growing today:

  • Raised garden beds are a great way to help with drainage and harvest the fruits of your labor with ease. They’re also helpful for minimizing some of the strain your joints and back may otherwise face.
  • Don’t forget to put a shaded area to rest nearby so that you don’t overwork yourself.
  • The type of plants you have are also going to affect the amount of effort you’re going to have to put into growing your garden. Here are several low-maintenance plant options that are sure to spruce up your efforts with minimal effort:
    • Aloe vera
    • Barberries
    • Coral Bells
    • Daylilies
    • Hostas
    • Hydrangea
    • Oregon Grapes
    • Peace lilies
    • Peonies
    • Rosemary
    • Spider plants
    • Thyme
    • ZZ plant
  • Hanging gardens and succulent gardens are also wonderful alternatives for seniors. Not only are they typically low maintenance, but you can also conduct your hobby indoors, away from harsher elements.

Gardening for Memory-Challenged Seniors

There is still a lot we don’t understand about our minds, but studies are showing promise that gardening is a great way to help prevent dementia.

Furthermore, there is evidence that those suffering from cognitive issues can benefit from the hobby in many ways.

A great way to start any garden is to prepare soil. It just so happens that this can be a great activity for able-bodied seniors as well. There’s something about getting your hands dirty and sorting out rocks and weeds that is rewarding and can help stimulate mental activity.

Maintaining the garden, such as watering, using safe pest control, or anything that involves care, are also great options. Of course, you’ll need to adjust these activities based on your physical capacity, but taking care of another living thing can help mental health in multiple ways.

Finally, once you’ve prepared the garden and taken care of it, it’s time to harvest. Yet another activity that helps stimulate brain function. Especially for those who might have trouble weeding, collecting the harvest is a welcomed alternative. Here’s why:

  • There are different colors and shapes that help stimulate brain function.
  • You’ll need to know where your plants are and monitor which are ready for harvest.
  • You’re also going to gain a sense of accomplishment, literally reaping the rewards of your efforts.

Elderly gardening isn’t just a great activity for those suffering from cognitive activities, but it’s also something family caregivers for seniors can also be a part of. This builds stronger relationships and helps mental health and brain function two-fold.

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Adaptive Gardening for Seniors

From finding ways to reduce the stress on joints to providing pathways for those with disabilities more mobility, adaptive gardening for seniors is available. There are several techniques and tools available to increase accessibility and assist in your gardening initiative. Of course, having a place to rest is always a good idea, but there are a few other considerations:

  • Sprinklers can help you avoid lugging around a hose and provide even watering for your entire garden. You’ll be able to focus on other activities with less stress and avoid potential injury with the right sprinkler system.
  • Gardening mobility aids can help you roll around safely to avoid falls while still engaging in your hobby. Whether you want to kneel or sit, options are available. Foam knee pads are also a great device to have around to alleviate stress on your body.
  • Extendable gardening tools for seniors and adaptable tools aren’t just going to take the stress off of your body but can also make horticulture more accessible. With positive features such as mitigating pain, reducing stress, and making gardening safer, the right tools can go a long way.
  • Using weed mats can help minimize one of the hardest, most tedious parts of elderly gardening: weeding. Installing weed mats at the beginning can pay off dividends throughout the life of your garden.
  • Elevated gardening beds have plenty of benefits for your plants but will also help you conduct your activities with less unnecessary stress.
  • Mulch, dirt, tools…there’s a lot to carry around. A wagon or similar wheeled device can be your best friend for getting around with ease. When necessary and able, motorized vehicles, such as utility vehicles and lawnmowers, can also help.

Indoor Gardening Ideas for Seniors

Over 9,600 people of the 12,000 or so who report a heat stroke in the United States are older than 60 years old. Gardening outside presents a clear risk of overheating, but it’s not the only threat.

Other heat-related illnesses, dehydration, muscle cramps, and more are also potential downfalls. Slick rocks and pathways from rain, watering systems, and even ice can also cause injury.

Furthermore, gardening outside may appeal to many, but it doesn’t mean this feeling is universal. Elderly gardening indoors can be done in a variety of ways and are often safer alternatives:

  • Succulents do well indoors and are easy to maintain.
  • Many herb gardens can thrive indoors with minimal care but are still very rewarding.
  • You can find several indoor growing systems that come with easy-to-use settings providing ample water, nutrients, and water.
  • More of a DIYer? For those able, you can also convert furniture into indoor gardens. If you are unable to do so yourself, collaborate with a loved one who can assist in your project.
  • Terrariums are very low maintenance and can provide you with an exciting alternative. You can even have them premade if you wish to avoid setting them up but still wish to maintain one.

Container Gardening for Seniors

A popular alternative to tilling the ground and working from it is the use of container gardening. Elderly gardeners can receive many benefits, including safer gardening, more versatility, a way to give back to your local ecosystem, and they are often easier to maintain:

  • Because containers grow from pots, baskets, barrels, and other forms of containers, you can set them up in places that are easy to access. This allows you to eliminate potentially strenuous and dangerous movements.
  • Birds and bugs love them. Container gardens can help ecosystems thrive. Pollinators and local birds working in unison as nature intended, even in urban environments, can be an added benefit.
  • Speaking of urban environments, not everyone has the space typically required for other forms of gardening. Having a container garden can be helpful if you’re tight on space. Even if you aren’t, they are great options.
  • Last but not least, container gardens can be a more affordable option. You won’t need as much soil, and heavy equipment is eliminated, which is a bonus safety feature.

Gardening Clubs for Seniors Can Provide a Great Sense of Community

Seniors gardening and having someone to share this passion with can lead to new friendships and learning new skills. There are several ways to go about this, but joining one of the many gardening clubs for seniors is arguably the best.

Here’s how to find local gardening clubs nearby from trusted communities promoted by the American Horticultural Society:

  • National Garden Clubs, Inc. has plenty to offer gardeners of all ages. You’ll find an array of programs that give back to various communities and a strong emphasis on regional gardening. This is evident through the organization’s eight different regional clubs that help further localize its national reach.
  • Joining The Garden Club of America is a popular choice among gardeners in every state. You’ll find programs and events centered around giving back to the community, along with tips and tricks to help your efforts thrive.
  • The Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America continues to focus on raising awareness about pressing issues, educating the public about gardening, and providing scientific data to help make a local impact on a national scale.

Each of these organizations is similar in scope and focus. The major benefit they possess for the elderly population is that there are many local members in an array of communities. This means connecting online and in-person is possible as yet another benefit of gardening for seniors.

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You may have to sign up and pay a membership fee, but each organization provides helpful online directories that can help you pinpoint exactly where other members are and events geared toward the elderly. Gardening for seniors is a beneficial activity for all and can even increase your social life in the process.

Common Gardening Injuries for Seniors

As you age, it is not uncommon to find yourself in pain or sore from doing tasks that used to come easy to you. The older you become, the more likely you are to experience a severe injury while gardening.

Common gardening injuries for seniors can include:

  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder tendonitis
  • Lower back pain
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Arthritis
  • Torn or pulled muscles
  • Kneecap bursitis

It is essential to take care of your body to help prevent injuries. Remember, the older you are, the more serious even minor injuries can become.

Medicare Coverage for Gardening Injuries

If an injury occurs due to a gardening accident, Medicare will be there to cover you. Whether you find yourself with a small laceration or a more extensive injury, Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B will provide the necessary benefits to ensure you are covered.

If you find yourself admitted to the hospital for a major injury that requires an overnight stay, Medicare Part A is responsible for covering your care. You may be responsible for paying a deductible or copayments depending on the care you receive.

If your injury is less serious, Medicare Part B will cover your visit to your primary care physician or a specialist if that is required.

Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan may help reduce your out-of-pocket costs depending on which plan option is right for you. To compare plans in your area, complete our online rate form. We look forward to helping you through your Medicare journey!

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MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Positive aging benefits of home and community gardening activities: Older adults report enhanced self-esteem, productive endeavours, social engagement and exercise, NIH. Accessed September 2023.
  2. Benefits of Gardening Activities for Cognitive Function According to Measurement of Brain Nerve Growth Factor Levels, NIH. Accessed September 2023.
  3. Lawn and Garden Safety Tips - CPSC Urges Care With Springtime Chores, CPSC. Accessed September 2023.
  4. When to Visit the ER for Cuts and Injuries, Wesley Healthcare. Accessed September 2023.
  5. Gardening May Repeatedly Activate the Frontal Pole, SCIRP. Accessed September 2023.
  6. The Effects of Heat on Older Adults, Harvard Medical School. Accessed September 2023.
  7. Garden Clubs, AHS. Accessed September 2023.
Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare educator serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.


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