Now that Spring is here, we can enjoy longer days, more sunshine, flowers, fresh air, birds chirping and all things beautiful that will stimulate our senses. This will be the perfect time to head outdoors and soak up vitamin D (sunlight) which is necessary for brain health, bones, and muscles. Natural sunlight and fresh air can also provide mental and emotional benefits. Getting outside provides opportunities for seniors to socialize with new people and participate in many outdoor activities which boost their overall health.
When choosing an activity to do with your loved one, focus on hobbies and interests that they used to enjoy when they were younger. Ask them what is something they have always wanted to try or something that they miss doing? Here are a few suggestions they might find fun and rewarding:
Gardening has been linked to reducing high blood pressure and alleviating stress. Additionally, being out in the sunlight while creating a beautiful space to relax will bring peace and a reduction in anxiety which can also reduce symptoms of depression. Gardening is considered moderate physical activity and you can burn approximately 200 calories per hour which will help reduce risk of heart disease. In addition to being a great form of physical exercise, gardening can increase mobility and strength. Studies have also found that garden can reduce the risk of dementia by engaging in functions such as dexterity, problem-solving, endurance, and sensory awareness.
Fishing is a meditative activity that forces you to relax and slow down by being in nature and enjoying your surroundings. Fishing is a great excuse to get outside and be alone or get together with friends. By going fishing your heart and lungs are all getting a good workout. Even if someone has mobility issues or uses a wheelchair you can still cast a rod from a dock, pier, or other easily accessible location. Fishing on a nice day can help increase Vitamin D in your body which helps regulate the amount of calcium which keeps your bones and teeth healthy. It also boosts your immune system and fights depression.
Swimming is a great way for seniors to incorporate some physical activity into their routine that seems more like relaxing than a workout. It is especially great for seniors as it is considered a low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise. There is no pressure on the knees, back, hips or other joints. In fact, the water supports your body which relieves regular strain on your joints. If your loved one is not into swimming just floating will provide relaxation and stress relief.
Picnic outdoors is another flexible activity that you can plan at a park, in your own backyard, or on the surrounding grounds of a care facility. Picnics can help alleviate boredom and isolation. At the park, seniors can watch children play at the playground, observe animals running around with their owners or just simply people-watching. Bird watching at a park is also known to stimulate the mind as well as the body.
Attend community events during spring and summer as those months offer opportunities for seniors to get out and be part of the crowd. Healthy relationships are necessary at every age, but the importance of socialization for seniors cannot be overemphasized. Consistent social interactions help keep people mentally, physically, and emotionally fit. Many communities offer outdoor musical performances, art shows, car shows, flea markets and more. Look for the events section of the local newspaper to find happenings that fit your loved one’s interests and abilities.
Photography is known to improve memory power which is a healthy benefit for your mind and your body. Mindfulness, or being in the moment, is an effective way to fight stress. Photography is known as a form of art and many forms of art promote mindfulness. Another reason photography is particularly beneficial to seniors is it keeps the brain sharp. Being that photography is a high-cognitive activity it enhances memory in older adults which keeps the brain stimulated. With cell phones having great camera capabilities these days there is not a need for a special camera as you already have a camera with you. Studies have shown that even just looking through old photographs in can spark memories in seniors that have dementia.
Attending a sporting event- Attending a grandchild’s baseball or soccer game or a professional baseball game can be an action-packed way for your loved one to connect with outdoors and family.