Because kids and teenagers seem to always be consumed by technology and screens, a new term has been created to define one of their problems: nature deficit disorder. Children don’t get out as much as they used to. But children and teenagers are not the only ones suffering from this condition. The elderly are often found to be lacking in their recommended dose of nature as well. It’s important to help your elders get outside and enjoy the nice weather and beautiful nature that surrounds them, especially as the spring season is upon us.
Spending time in nature can be beneficial to seniors for many reasons:
Nature Provides an Opportunity for Exercise
Exercise is so important, but it’s easy to forget that “exercise” doesn’t always mean spending thirty minutes on the elliptical or lifting weights. For the elderly especially, exercise is just being active and moving. Nature provides a great excuse and opportunity for this. Going on a nature walk can strengthen and stretch muscles, increase joint flexibility, and release endorphins, which make people happy and boost moods. The added exercises also boost vitality and energy, which in turn can boost resilience to physical illnesses.
Nature Encourages Feelings of Restoration, Renewal, and Peace
Spending time in nature can bring feelings of peace and restoration into a person’s life, regardless of age. Nature is a place that’s separate from the business and craziness of the world around us, a place where we can breathe easier and just relax. And this is true for seniors, as well.
Nature Remedies Boredom
Because of the natural process of aging and slowing down, seniors are often constrained to their home or place of residence, without much change of venue. Nature offers a place where seniors can be active and revel in its beauty, a place with different and new things to see every day. Nature provides sensory stimulation and a new outlet for socialization among other nature-lovers.
Nature Can Make Us Healthier and Happier
Besides the obvious benefits that come from exercising in nature, nature is known to result in other health benefits. For instance, there have been studies that show that seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s can have reduced symptoms after spending time in gardens. With nature and sunshine also comes an increase in our Vitamin D intake, which helps stabilize and protect our immune systems.
But What Can We Do Outside?
There are many things for a senior to do outside to enjoy nature. Just think of the senior’s interests and the world is your oyster. You can go on walks, bird-watch, bring board games and puzzles outside, garden, have a picnic, go kite-flying, play yard games, go fishing, enjoy the flowers in a local botanical garden, go berry picking, take photos, or even paint the landscape. There are many options that are not too physically rigorous, but will still grant the benefits we’ve discussed.
But Remember that Precaution Is Important
Since we’re helping and caring for the elderly, it’s important to consider their needs and abilities when planning any nature outing. You should always consult their physician before doing anything too strenuous or if you have any questions about what they can or cannot do. Or when you plan outings, take time to think of modifications or things to do if they are worn out.
Overall, use nature as a place for enjoyment and relaxation and personal growth for the senior you love and care for. Remind them of the beauty of life by reminding them of the beauty of nature. Be safe and have fun!