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Fall Yard Cleanup: Top 7 Tips for Older Adults

September 19, 2023 4 min read

Fall Yard Cleanup: Top 7 Tips for Older Adults

As autumn arrives, the crisp air and colourful foliage signal the need for a little yard cleanup before the onset of winter. While it's a satisfying task for many, it's essential to approach it with caution, especially with older adults or those who are deconditioned for any reason. Proper precautions can make a significant difference in preventing accidents and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. We'll explore some valuable health and safety tips to take into consideration for the fall yard cleanup.

1. Preparation is Key

Check the weather

Before you head outside, check the weather forecast. Avoid working in adverse weather conditions, as wet leaves and slippery surfaces can increase the risk of slips and falls.

Dress Appropriately

Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing.  Layers may be best, as they can be easier to regulate by adding and removing layers as needed.  Wear supportive shoes with good grip to prevent slips and trips. Don't forget a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun's rays.  Gloves may also be a great option, as they not only protect your hands from thorns and sharp organic waste, but they can also improve your grip. 

Senior couple with wheelbarrow doing yard cleanup

Stay Hydrated

Even in cooler weather, it's essential to stay hydrated. Take regular water breaks to ensure you're feeling your best throughout the cleanup.

2. Yard Cleanup Tools

Choose the Right Tools

Select lightweight, ergonomic tools that are easy to handle. Consider using a leaf blower to reduce the physical strain of raking leaves.  Try not to overload wheel barrows; taking more trips to the compost pile not only increases your step count but can reduce physical strain.in load reduction. 

brown fallen leaves being blown by a person in green using a leaf blower

Properly Maintain Tools

Ensure that your tools are in good working condition. Dull blades or malfunctioning equipment can lead to accidents.  Plan ahead and make sure you have everything you need in good working order before you start.  This may include leaf and compost bags. This can help you plan out your tasks more effectively, pace your activities, and stay on task. 

3. Proper lifting techniques

Bend your Knees 

When lifting heavy bags of leaves or other yard waste, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Use your legs to lift, not your back.  Try to keep your core engaged while breathing normally.  Bring the item as close to your body as possible; this helps you maintain your balance while carrying objects.  When carrying buckets, alternate sides so as not to overwork one side of your body over another. 

Don't Overload

Avoid overloading bags or containers. Be sure that you only lift what you can manage; lifting items that are too heavy can cause injury.  If the item is awkwardly shaped, it may be best to get some help. It's better to make more trips with lighter loads than to risk straining your back or shoulders.

4. Raking Leaves Safely

Warm-Up

Before you start raking, do some light stretches to prepare your muscles for the task. Pay special attention to your back, shoulders, and legs.

Older asian man doing a side stretch outdoors in autumn

Use proper Raking Techniques

Hold the rake with both hands, keeping it close to your body. Switch your stance and hand position regularly to distribute the workload evenly.  Be sure to protect your hands so that you don't get any blisters or hot spots on your hands while raking.

Bright autumn leaves being raked up

Take Breaks

Raking can be physically demanding, so take frequent breaks to rest and hydrate. Overexertion can lead to muscle strain, injury, and fatigue.

5. Storage and Cleanup

Store Tools Safely

After your yard cleanup is complete, store your tools in a safe and organised manner. This prevents tripping hazards and ensures they are ready for the next use.  Do any necessary maintenance work on them so that they are ready to go again when you need them in the spring.  

Yard tool storage

Dispose of Yard Waste Properly

Follow local regulations for the disposal of yard waste. Composting or recycling leaves and branches is an eco-friendly option in many areas.

6. Self-Care

Be sure to take some time after you have completed your task to do some light stretches, have a shower, and care for your body.  Yard clean-up can be physically demanding and, as such, may cause some aches and pains in the days following.  Be sure to eat properly, hydrate, and get sufficient sleep to aid in your recovery.  This holds true for those who exercise regularly and those who don't, as the movements required for yard clean-up may differ from your usual activities.

7. Ask for Help

Don't hesitate to ask for assistance if needed. If the task feels too physically demanding or if you have concerns about your safety, consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member.

Remember, safety should always come first. By following these health and safety tips, older adults can enjoy the beauty of fall while minimising the risk of accidents or injuries during yard cleanup. A well-maintained yard can be a source of pride and joy, so take the necessary precautions to make it a safe and satisfying experience. Happy fall cleanup!