Turns out, you are never too old to play outside. In fact, research has consistently shown that enjoying the great outdoors in your golden years can benefit you in a multitude of ways. But, we also understand how mobility issues, lack of access and/or lack of transportation can create challenges. Here’s why you should make the most of nature and how you can make doing so easier.
Why Seniors Should Get Back to Nature
Whether it’s the breath of fresh air that clears your head or the warm sunshine that puts a smile on your face, nature has long been known to inspire and improve mood. But nature’s benefits go much deeper than that, particularly as we age. Spending time outdoors can literally change your life for the better.
Mental health benefits – A University of Michigan study found that group walks in a natural setting could be a medication alternative for seniors dealing with stressful circumstances, such as loss of a loved one or serious illness. Another study by the University of Minnesota found that being close to water is especially comforting when you’re grieving and can provide a sense of connectedness with deceased loved ones.
Memory benefits – A study published by the Association for Psychological Science found that interacting with nature improved memory performance and attention span by 20 percent because of its restorative effect on our mental abilities.
Physical health benefits – One University of Chicago study found that simply living in a tree-filled neighborhood can help improve cardiovascular and metabolic health in addition to lowering blood pressure and stress levels. Plus, Harvard University found that people with homes surrounded by vegetation lived 12 percent longer, had a 34 percent lower rate of death from respiratory illness and a 13 percent lower rate of cancer death.
Emotional benefits – Social isolation is all too common among seniors and having access to outdoor spaces provides wonderful opportunities to be more active and engaged with others. According to a Kent State University study, social settings in outdoor spaces are associated with positive experiences, increases pride in the community and offers a chance to meet people with similar interests.
Energy benefits – It’s hard to feel energized if you’re home alone and going through the same routine each day. Getting out of the house can help immensely. According to a University of Rochester study, 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.
Easy Ways to Spend Time with Nature
You don’t necessarily have to travel far or sign up for the next Survivor season to get the benefit of time outdoors. Here’s how you can make the most of nature in everyday life:
- Sit by an open window as you enjoy a meal or read.
- Set up bird feeder within view of a window, porch or deck.
- Plant flowers that attract butterflies or simply enjoy watching the plants bloom.
- Make a point to walk to the mailbox each day.
- Find ways to integrate your hobbies with the outdoors; paint landscapes or simply do your arts and crafts outside; find an outdoor concert where you can enjoy your favorite genre of music; instead of exercising inside, set up your yoga mat on the porch.
- Invite your family over for a barbeque or the grandchildren over to play outside.
- If you meditate pick a favorite spot in the yard instead of in the house.
- If you have a pet, instead of just letting them out to play start taking them for walks.
Nature is a Natural Fit in Active Senior Living
Perhaps you’re still concerned about mobility in trying the ideas above at home or live in an area without easy access to outdoor space. Or, maybe you already do the ideas above and want to go bigger; there is another option: active senior living.
You may be surprised to learn that senior living is well aware of the benefits of nature for their residents and today’s communities are specifically designed to incorporate nature whenever and wherever possible.
On campus you’ll find lush green landscaping, numerous green spaces from gardens to patios and courtyards; even residences with lovely views in many cases. Plus, these communities cater to the mobility needs of seniors with easy-to-navigate walking paths for example.
But it’s not just the campus itself; active senior living communities incorporate nature into daily life as well with activities that incorporate the outdoors such as gardening clubs, walking groups and outings to enjoy local outdoor recreation opportunities. What’s more, many communities are even strategically located near parks. You’ll have more opportunities than you can imagine to enjoy the benefits of nature here!
For more information on how you can benefit from nature in active senior living, contact us today to schedule a visit →