Seniors Need Nature
“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” -Unknown
This only makes more sense when you get to your sunset years.
A larger population of senior adults do not spend enough time, or none at all, out in nature despite the many health benefits associated with nature.
This could be due to physical disability, chronic diseases, lack of proper walking, fear of falling when outdoors, or simply fear of just being outdoors alone.
There is no best strategy to get seniors to go out in nature, even when it’s well known that spending time outdoors is beneficial.
Let’s find out why it’s important to encourage your aging loved ones to soak up the beauty of nature.
Top 5 Reasons Why Spending Time In Nature Matters For Seniors
To Increase Physical Activity
Perhaps one of the most important reasons why seniors should spend time outside is to engage their physical bodies. Physical activity plays a huge role in health.
For instance, studies have shown that seniors who walk a few times a week are less likely to complain of insomnia, joint pains, and other old-age-related problems compared to those who don’t.
Active seniors generally sleep better, have reduced pains, a better functioning body, and other physical benefits.
Active seniors also lower the chance of getting chronic illnesses like Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease.
For Better Mental Health
Spending time in nature can help significantly improve one’s emotional state reducing the feelings of anxiety, stress, and even depression.
Numerous researches have backed up the theory that nature has a positive psychological effect on humans, both young and old.
Perhaps because we have an innate attachment to the natural world as a result of the biocultural evolution.
This innate tendency to want to associate with nature is what elicits the positive emotional state that seniors experience when in parks and other green spaces.
One large global study showed that people who spend a lot of their time in nature reported having a lower heart rate, a healthy blood pressure, less stress, and generally have enhanced mental well-being than those who don’t embrace what nature has to offer.
Increased Energy Levels
Spending time in nature, even just a few moments a day, could increase energy levels in seniors.
A study from the University of Rochester backs this theory up. It reveals that being exposed to nature helps to increase energy levels compared to any other stimulus.
Other studies explain this theory in a more practical way. If you spend time outdoors, you absorb more Vitamin D, which is one of the vitamins linked to improved mood and energy levels.
Longer, Quality Life
Seniors who enjoy spending time in nature live a more fulfilling life.
Their quality of life is better because they are physically active, they have a more positive mental state, have a better chance of interacting with others, and generally live a healthier life.
A study from Harvard University has found those who spend time in nature live up to 10 years longer. Another study also shows that social interaction increases one’s lifespan.
Improved Social Connections
A stroll to the park or bird-feeding in a nearby sanctuary could help you meet new people and open up your social connections. Social connection is important in warding off loneliness.
Isolation is one of the major causes of depression and other health conditions like dementia in senior adults.
Given that nearly 40% of seniors in the United States are reported to be leaving in social isolation, this is more than worrying.
Seniors who spend more time outdoors have a greater sense of ownership of their community and are more inclined to join community activities.
The community provides a lifeline to social connections that they may not be able to get elsewhere.
For instance, joining the community gardening provides you with a chance to be physically active, engage in an activity that you are perhaps passionate about, and at the same time interact with other like-minded people, in addition to spiritual healing.
4 Ways You Can Help Your Senior Get Out More Often
There is no quick and easy way to get seniors to get out more often, but there are a few ways you can perhaps try over time.
First and foremost, having an open and candid conversation about being outdoors and what health benefits they stand to gain should be the ice breaker.
Most seniors do not realize that it’s beneficial to spend a few moments interacting with nature every so often.
Secondly, find out what their challenge is. For those with limited mobility due to one reason or another, find them appropriate walking aids. These can be manual or electric wheelchairs, walkers, walking canes, or mobility scooters.
If distance is an issue, find accessible parks and other green spaces where they can comfortably use their walking aids without much fuss or strain.
A lot of them fear falling off their walking aids because of raised pavements and such like obstacles.
In addition, help them find a favorite outdoor activity. It could be gardening, watching sunrise or sunset, bird watching, picnicking out in the woods, fishing or simply sharing a meal outside with friends and family.
There is no doubt that seniors need nature and need it now. But the question is, how do we make it easy for them to be out in nature while still feeling safe and comfortable.
One thing for sure is that we must ensure the parks and all natural spaces are accessible to seniors. If we ignore our most vulnerable, we let down our elders and no one wants that.
Guest Writer Bio
Daisy Chepkoech is a passionate writer. She has been writing about senior care products and services for over 5 years. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. When she is not writing, Daisy is traveling the world gasping in the beauty of nature.