Celebrating Earth Month – The importance of getting outside for seniors
April is Earth Month, a time to celebrate our one shared home and pay special attention to nature and its many splendors. Though awareness and nature education are encouraged all month, April 22nd is the official Earth Day.
Being in nature has several health benefits, including staying active and lifting the mood. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to nature can result in improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation. There are several ways for seniors to get outside and enjoy the nature around them, and these effects can be observed no matter how much or little exposure you have.
Go for a walk
One of the most accessible forms of exercise for aging adults is going outside to enjoy a simple walk. Strolling through the neighborhood or a local park can do more than just getting you your daily exercise dose. According to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, going for a brisk walk each day can lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 33%.
Start up a garden
Planting a tree is a regularly observed ritual on Earth Day but planting some cheery flowers or growing your own vegetables is just as rewarding. Bring your home to life with an outdoor garden that will keep you engaged throughout the warm seasons and give you plenty of reasons to step outside every day. Even a pot of flowers on a doorstep can bring a smile to your face and get you out of the house. If your home does not have the land or room for plants or a garden, look for a community garden in your area where you can meet others who will share the joys of the outdoors with you. The social aspect of group gardening will boost the already plentiful benefits of nature.
Finding a nice bench to sit on and watching the local wildlife fly and run through the trees is a great, low-impact activity for those with less mobility. Not only is it an easy activity to enjoy, but it has great benefits on mental sharpness. According to the Institute on Aging, observing small visual details, noticing patterns in animal behavior, and listening closely to bird songs all help to engage the brain. Birdwatching can enhance older adults' reflex skills, mental alertness and can even benefit dementia
The next day when the sun is shining in a clear, blue sky, consider having an afternoon lunch outside with a friend, family member, caregiver or pet. Picnics feel like a special treat and can add to the excitement of preparing a group activity for your loved ones. Enjoying your favorite fruits, veggies, sandwiches and snacks outside will lift your mood as an outdoor social event. Wear a sun hat, sunscreen, or a cover-up and practice sun safety if the rays are intense.
Fruits reach peak season for picking at all different times throughout the year. A short drive into a rural area will likely have some farms where you can pick your own apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, oranges, or other in-season fruits. This combines so many outdoor activities– a nice walk through the fruit trees, some healthy snacks under the sun, and a pleasant memory shared by you and the loved ones who accompany you.
Visiting Angels caregivers can be a strong encouragement and support through all of your outdoor activities. Walking and transportation assistance, companionship, and meal planning, and preparation are all services available to you with in-home care. A caregiver's assistance can help you feel confident in your ventures out of the house and keep you motivated to continue the habit going forward. To learn more about how an in-home caregiver can add to your overall quality of life, reach out today to schedule an in-home consultation to discuss your needs at (224) 512-4180. Visiting Angels Barrington offers caregivers ready to assist you in the areas in Barrington, Algonquin, Palatine, Lake Zurich, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Woodstock, Cary and the surrounding areas.