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Nature Can Enhance Services for Elderly

Our lifetimes are marked by the changing of seasons, and with each season comes a plethora of outdoor experiences to stimulate our senses. With spring coming soon, we can enjoy the scent of flowers or rain in the air. Summertime is filled with sunshine that warms us and makes us squint our eyes. In the autumn, we can hear the crunching of leaves beneath our feet and enjoy the cool air that brings relief from summer’s heat. And in winter, we might enjoy going outside for a brisk walk to enjoy the falling snow, before retreating back inside from the cold with tingling fingers and toes.

As one study points out, spending time out in nature makes us feel more alive. For seniors who have restricted access to transportation or limited mobility, getting out into the natural environment is even more crucial. Nature Deficit Disorder is an actual diagnosis that is applicable to children and teens who remain inside too much, watching TV and playing video games rather than playing outside. However, this can also apply to older individuals who are confined to a nursing home, their own home, or another location where they’re now receiving services for the elderly, unable to get around on their own.

In the book The Nature Principle, Richard Louv, the author, presents the idea that by connecting with the healing powers of nature, we can boost mental acuity, enhance health and wellness, and strengthen human connections. The world of nature is such an integral part of each of our lives, in so many ways – through water, plants, animals, weather, and regional landscapes. In addition to simply bringing us joy, nature also provides us with countless topics to discuss. Just watch the local news tonight, and no doubt the weather report will be near the top of the line-up.

Studies show that spending some time outside "in nature" can help seniors by:

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Reducing anxiety

  • Improving vitamin D absorption--exposure to sun allows us to make Vitamin D

  • Increasing physical activity

  • Combating depression

  • Boosting immunity

There are a variety of ways to help older adults get out and enjoy nature. Our caregivers take our elderly clients out onto porches, decks or sidewalks to experience the summer breeze, or find parks with paved paths that are accessible to walkers and wheelchairs. Where possible and when it's part of an approved Plan of Care, we may take our clients to visit local arboretums when the weather isn’t nice enough to be outside, and engage in activities such as planter gardening, photography, and bird watching. Not every senior requests these activities but when they do, we encourage them to get out in nicer weather as much as they desire and we support that activity wholeheartedly.

At AAging Better In-Home Care, we understand how important nature can be to those for whom we provide services. For more information about our in-home services, give us a call at Toll Free 866-464-2344 (North Idaho) or Toll Free 844-814-8080 (Eastern Washington).

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