How Nature Access Improves the Quality of Life in Older Adults

Can you believe there are 12 times more trees on our own earth than stars in the milky way? And just because stars are far away and trees are right outside our door, we seem to appreciate one more than the other.

No one can deny the influence of nature on our health. Nature has always been very generous to us, and using the word mother before nature seems just about right. It protects, feeds and nurtures us, and it has been doing so for centuries.

Since the industrial revolution, the bond between humans and nature has weakened. Nonetheless, the importance of such a bond has drawn the attention of psychologists these days. For this reason, we will dig deeper into the effect of nature on the life quality of older adults.

The Health Benefits of Nature

There are several ways through which older adults benefit from nature and outdoor activities. First of all, engaging in activities that require physical movements helps them have higher physical health. Secondly, the relationship with nature boosts the senior’s mood and eases depression. And last but not least is that it can promote social interaction with other people and promote seniors’ social health.

Physical Health

Obviously, the more physical activity in older adults, the healthier they will be. Seniors can strengthen their muscles and bones by doing light exercise and walking in a park. In this regard, a study that was done over five years investigated this effect. The study results, published in the European Journal of Ageing, showed that older adults who live near a park or tree-lined streets and have a space for walking had higher longevity. Other scientific studies also claim that having an outdoor walking routine at 70 leads to lower musculoskeletal problems, pain, and better sleep.

In another study done in South Korea, a group of seniors who walked, rested, and mediated in a forest showed lower stress hormones and higher life quality than others who didn’t. An interesting study on the effect of gardening on seniors’ life quality showed that those people had higher physical activity, well-being, and health than others. Additionally, those who do gardening consume more vegetables than others.

Activities to Do in Nature Suitable for Seniors

There are lots of different activities to do in nature suitable for seniors. The most prominent ones are as follow:

  • Gardening

As mentioned earlier, scientific studies have confirmed the health benefits of gardening for seniors. This activity helps strengthen seniors’ muscles and bones, refresh their spirits, elevate mood, etc. Note that there is no need for a big yard to do gardening; you can use pots and boxes to cultivate herbs and raise flowers. You can even grow your daily vegetables in a small yard or pots.

  • Photography of Nature

This one is fantastic, and you’ll see for yourself once you give it a go! Taking pictures of nature can be an excellent hobby for seniors. The best thing is that there is no need for an expensive camera; simple analogue cameras or smartphones and tablets would be entirely appropriate for this purpose.

  • Picnic

Eating a meal in nature can be very enjoyable. No matter how old you are, eating food in nature can stimulate your appetite and lead to better digestion!

  • Fishing

Fishing is one of those activities that most seniors love! You can benefit from the silence and peace while fishing. It can also be considered a stress-relieving activity.

  • Play Games

You can play outdoor games like lawn bowling or lawn darts with your peers or family. In addition, you can play chess or board games in a park with your friends while enjoying the fresh air and nature.

  • Painting

If you are fond of painting, nature can be a great source of inspiration for you if you are the kind of person. There are lots of unique ideas and fantastic scenes you can benefit from.

Mental Health

Loneliness is one of the common concerns among the elderly. Isolation damages their physical and mental health. Numerous scientific studies prove that decreased loneliness in the elderly correlated with higher longevity, cognition function, and lowered depression.

Having access to nature is one of the indirect ways to socialize with other people. More precisely, common green spaces and parks or walkways provide a perfect place for seniors to have informal social interactions and social contacts. A study published in the Environment and Behavior journal in 1998 revealed that seniors who had more exposure to nature had a stronger sense of unity and a stronger sense of belonging to the community.

Nature and shared green spaces encourage seniors to spend more time outdoors and provide a suitable place to meet each other more frequently.

Social Health

Loneliness is one of the common problems among the elderly. As we age, our relationships with other people got limited. The isolation of seniors hurts their physical and mental health. Numerous scientific studies prove that the decreased loneliness in the elderly correlated with higher longevity, cognition function, and decrease depression.

Having access to nature is one of the indirect ways to socialize with other people. More precisely, common green spaces and parks or walkways provide a perfect place for seniors to have informal social interactions and social contacts. A study published in the Environment and Behavior journal in 1998 revealed that seniors who had more exposure to nature had a stronger sense of unity and a stronger sense of belonging to the community.

Nature and shared green spaces encourage seniors to spend more time outdoor and provide a suitable place for them to meet each other more frequently. So, the higher rate of social interactions helps them cope with ageing stresses, isolation and build stronger social ties.

Horticultural Therapy for Seniors

Our Homo sapiens ancestors have evolved in a natural environment, so it is no wonder we show intrinsic psychological positive reactions to nature. Therefore, the idea of therapeutic gardens has emerged. These gardens should contain familiar elements and activities of the region that seniors engaged in when they were young. The purpose of therapeutic gardens is to promote the sensory stimulation of seniors through regular daily activities. These gardens are beneficial for seniors with dementia since they provide a safe place for exercising and socializing. At the same time, they are designed to reduce disorientation in seniors.

On the contrary, Horticultural Therapy is considered a group of activities to help seniors’ physical, mental, or emotional problems based on physician or psychologist recommendation. These activities include cultivating plants, sowing seeds, watering, harvesting, etc.

Conclusion

Highly urbanized societies have imposed a high level of stress on people, particularly seniors. Scientific data show that a tight relationship with nature can reduce such tensions, increase social ties, relieve feelings of isolation, and increase seniors’ life quality. This article tries to explain how nature access can improve the quality of life in seniors.

Source naturewithin ncbi
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William
William
7 months ago

I didn’t know why my father and grandfather liked fishing so much. I couldn’t even understand it, just sitting for hours in the open space, waiting for a tiny fish to take the bait. But then, I got to go fishing with my father a few times. I know now that it wasn’t about fishing. It was enjoying the beautiful scenery together that made them love fishing so bad. Even now, I go fishing without my father beside me. It doesn’t matter if I can’t catch any fish. All that matters is that nature is always there for me.

D.Martin
D.Martin
7 months ago

I always see myself too little to say things like “I like nature.” The fact is, if it weren’t for the occasional camping and fishing, I’d be out of my mind right now. Being in the woods or by a lake is the only way to know that life is the most precious gift.

Troy
Troy
7 months ago

Oh, my family and I used to go on picnics every other weekend. Everything was just wonderful back then. At least, we were so happy with what we had. But my children moved away, and now only one of them lives in town. It’s hard, but those good times are over. Sometimes I get sad because I keep thinking about how I can’t experience the whole thing again.

Jackeline.H
Jackeline.H
7 months ago

This was one of the best articles I’ve read. We sometimes forget how small things can have significant impacts. Nature walks are something people need, no matter their age, physical conditions or timings. Modern life is taking o many things away; sure, technology is excellent; but true peace of mind comes from simple things. I think everyone should include walking in the park or gardening in their schedule.

Stones
Stones
7 months ago

I’m a painter. Whenever I feel like picking up the brush, I go outside. At first, I only did that because of the odour; I use oil colour. But now it’s inevitable; I have to be in nature to create something good. The funny thing is, most of my works are abstract paintings. It happens once in a while; someone passes by and glances at my work. They probably think, what’s up with this guy, pouring none shaped colours, starring at trees! Jokes on you, that’s how I get my inspiration!

Mario
Mario
7 months ago

I believe that we can’t live without nature at all. No matter how old we are, but nature is essential for us. Notably, like the elderly, we need to spend more time in nature. Because our spirit feels more freedom when we go to places such as the jungle, sea or mountain, I suggest to my friends and all of your readers to join tourism groups and enjoy walking among the trees and hearing the voices of birds! It’s totally amazing!

Sandra
Sandra
6 months ago

My grandfather was a painter. He used to take me to the mountains and seashore and let me watch him paint the scenery. We went to such amazing places together. I’m really grateful that he let me be a part of that experience at that time and when I was at a young age. He’s probably the reason why the person I am today loves nature with her whole heart

Charlotte
Charlotte
6 months ago

Nature is a source of calm for me. I’m planning to have a garden when I retire in which I’ll raise flowers and vegetables. So I will have access to fresh food every day. this dream is very inspiring for me

Francesca.
Francesca.
6 months ago

One of my friends told me about horticultural therapy and how the sessions have helped her. I would love to try horticultural therapy, but it’s too expensive. It’s not covered by insurance either. But the way she said, the result and the experience are worth the cost.