Senior Living
Enter an address to see local care options or call.
(Open: 5:00 AM - 8:00 AM PT)
(866) 859-7420

Speak with a Senior Housing Specialist Fast & Free!

For those who need it, Complete the form below to get started!

Find Assisted Living in your area:


Why use

  • Largest directory of Assisted Living options online.
  • Over 100,000 consumer reviews.
  • Get info on amenities, photos and pricing.

11 Steps to Gardening with Arthritis

11 Steps to Gardening with Arthritis

Leslie Land is an established writer on the topics of gardening and cooking, working as one of the original chefs at Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, back in the beginning of her career.  But eventually her long term arthritis went from being a minor nuisance to a more debilitating pain, which made all of her gardening expertise much harder to execute.  

Gardening for her was a bit of a meditative practice that could alleviate her troubles and pains but now her green thumb was growing incapable of giving her this respite.  She goes on to explain that medical interventions and therapy can help but the thing that really enabled her to keep gardening with arthritis was an 11-step-at-home-program that she devised.

Doctors will often say the best way to handle arthritis is to just limit the use that aggravates the pain.  But if the pain is in your hands, one might imagine how this advice is seldom followed.  But there are still modifications you can implement to your behavior.


Step 1: Think of Your Hand Usage like a Bank Account

It can help just to shift your awareness to the “usage cost” involved in using your hands.  We go through most of our lives being accustomed to infinite usage.  This is akin to a person born into an endless stream of money suddenly needing to stick to a budget.  Budget with your hands and know that each thing you do, even if it doesn’t hurt, will have a cost for the day, and this subtracts from your total bank account.


Step 2: Set Your Daily Allowance

Now that you’ve pictured your hand use like a bank account, you know that preparing a pie will leave less room for picking peas in the garden, or shifting some soil.  Leslie Land suggests doing what she does if you’re planning on cooking for an evening party.  She cuts all her ingredients and arranges the herbs the day beforehand.  This allows her enough in the bank to do the rest of the cooking the day of the party and not be in pain by dinner time.


Step 3: Break down your tasks into ones that must be done by you, and ones that can be done by anyone

In gardening, some of the more artistic nuances might be things that only you know how to do.  Only you know exactly what you want and how to get it the way you want.  But sometimes there are simple tasks, like digging a trench for pea seedlings to go into or deadheading daffodils, that anyone else can do instead, thus saving you energy.  This brings us to our next point.


Step 4:  Have the List Ready if You Have Friends You Can Delegate to

When a friend is around to offer a “helping hand”, you can already know ahead of time just what needs doing and what they can do.  But sometimes we might not have the fortune of such handy friends.  And in that case you’ll want to…


Step 5: Hire some Help

Finding the right help can be a surprising challenge even if you readily have the funds to do so. Keep on the lookout for a teenager in search of extra money and work wanted sections of local papers.  But don’t forget to check the online classified section since it’s usually lengthier.


Step 6: Preheat the Hands

Warm joints will move more smoothly than cold ones, and gardening with arthritis outdoors can chill the hands quickly during certain seasons.  Try a five minute soak in hot water (wearing thin rubber gloves) or using a hot wax machine.  Anything to warm up the hands adequately before getting out in the garden.


Step 7: Set Time-Limits, not Task Limits

Use that kitchen timer to time yourself in the garden.  Prioritize what you can do within that time frame.  Don’t get lost to the whims of open-ended feelings in the garden by sticking to a task-based limit.  Base your limits on time instead.


Step 8: Use the Whole Hand to Lift Things

It is less strenuous on the hands and joints if you can use the whole hand in transporting things, rather than the easy habit of pinching with the fingers or just lifting with the fingers.  Sometimes you might even use both hands to make it more easy-going.


Step 9: Keep Garden Tools Sharpened

It would be easy to forget this common sense piece of advice.  But keeping your cutting utensils very sharp will mean less pressure when chopping and cutting, which works in both the garden and the kitchen.  Some garden tools are actually designed and marketed to be used by those with arthritic hands.


Step 10: Get a Voice Recorder

This is important for those that might type a lot.  And in today’s modern world that includes a lot of people.  But if you have some software that can transcribe your voice into words whenever and wherever possible, this will free up some funds in your hand usage bank account.


Step 11: Soak Up the Sunshine

Don’t forget to take the time for actual stress reduction and stress management.  It’s one of the most important steps.  Enjoy the beauty in your garden; give your hands the benefit of feeling the sunshine on them too.  Take time to appreciate it all and this can make a real difference.

Give Us Your Comments About This Page. This area is not for asking for help .


[1] Comment.
John Cermak On Apr 11, 2017
Thank you for this valuable information!

Need Help? Call (866) 859-7420