seniors playing outside

A Change of Environment: How to Help an Elderly Loved One Enjoy the Outdoors Again

When you’re retired and don’t have much to do, it’s easy just to stay at home and make every day a lazy day. But what some people don’t realize is that staying indoors for extended periods can make you lose out on the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of being outdoor – from decreased levels of anxiety to lower risks of type II diabetes. Here’s what you can do to help your elderly loved one enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors again.

Educate Them About the Benefits

Going outside gives you more than just vitamin D from the sun. In fact, it can help lower your risks of developing chronic diseases and mental illnesses. A research paper from the University of East Anglia (UEA) showed that people exposed to green spaces had a reduced risk of type II diabetes, heart disease, pre-term birth, high blood pressure, and stress.

A green space, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is land that is partially or completely surrounded by vegetation like grass, shrubs, and trees. This includes parks and community gardens. The UEA study, covered in research news provider ScienceDaily, analyzed over 140 papers to determine if being close to nature truly helps a person’s health.

Being near nature may also help your loved one perform everyday tasks better. A recent study found that people who stroll in woodlands may have reduced anxiety and better short-term memory than those who don’t. The researchers enlisted the help of 60 participants split into two groups. The first one took a 50-minute walk around a green space, while the second group strolled around a more urban area. Apart from fewer instances of rumination, the first group also had better performance in memory tasks given to them compared with the second group. With these benefits, they’re bound to give the outdoors a chance.

Understand Their Side

You may be frustrated at your elderly loved one’s stubborn resentment of the outside world, but there has to be a reason behind it. Calmly ask them why they don’t want to step out of a door. Is it because of physical reasons? Emotional ones? If they don’t want to disclose it, leave them be. There’s always a way to show them the beauty of nature without going outside. You can give them an indoor plant to take care of or move the dining table closer to the window so you can have breakfast with them while enjoying the view outside.

Give Them The Equipment They Need

mobility scooter

If your loved one’s issue is a physical disability, get them better mobility equipment. Get a patient lift to reduce the physical stress of transferring them to a wheelchair. If they want more control over their movement, buying them a jazzy scooter may give them a smoother ride than a wheelchair. They’ll have a better time strolling around Orem Community Park when they can move independently.

Going outside has many benefits for senior citizens. If they resist the idea, ease into it by providing relevant information and calm convincing. If that doesn’t work, give them small but significant gifts that remind them of the outdoors, such as a nice-looking indoor plant. And once they finally decide to go outside, make sure they have the best equipment to assist with their mobility. It’s all worth the effort when you see their smile as they appreciate the beauty of nature once more.

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