With seasonal flowers covering the landscape with a fresh blanket of color and a crisp, cool breeze giving way to warmth and sunshine, there’s no better time than spring to get outdoors in Hendersonville.

And with an ever-expanding catalog of research, new benefits of spending time outdoors for seniors are constantly being discovered. 

How Can Getting Outdoors Support a Senior’s Health?

  • Connecting with nature.

Connecting with the natural world benefits people of all ages, promoting mental restoration, stress reduction, and even improved cognitive health. [1] A recent feature by the American Psychological Association (APA) delved into current research in-depth, revealing that exposure to nature links to everything from improved attention, empathy, and cooperation to elevated mood and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders (Weir, 2020). [2]

While research into the benefits of nature, specifically for older adults, is less extensive, it’s an area that shows great promise. For example, one recent study found that therapeutic horticulture increased happiness, reduced anxiety, and improved cognitive functioning among a sample of older adults (Sia et al., 2020). [3] 

  • Promoting physical health.

Time spent outdoors can naturally encourage seniors to stand or walk around more than indoors, potentially leading to better physical health. The power of exercise for senior health is well documented, with benefits including better brain health, weight management, reduced risk of many diseases, increased bone and muscle strength, and better ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [4]

One study by Kerr et al. (2012) [5] found that being physically active and outdoors were associated with better self-reported physical functioning in seniors. But movement isn’t always necessary to reap physical health benefits; for example, simply spending time outside is a great way to boost vitamin D intake. This micronutrient has been linked to bone health, muscle strength, reduction of cardiovascular and neurological diseases, immunity, and even fall reduction, but around half of all seniors worldwide are considered deficient (Lauretani et al., 2009). [6] 

  • Supporting mental wellbeing.

Research has found that getting out into the fresh air can reduce stress, lower anxiety, and improve mood. Specifically in seniors, Kerr et al. (2012) discovered in their study that physical activity and outdoor exposure correlated with fewer depressive symptoms and a reduced fear of falling. Many outdoor activities like walks, gardening, or picnics can also promote socialization, benefitting the estimated one in three seniors experiencing loneliness in the U.S. (University of Michigan, 2023). [7]

The physical benefits of being outdoors can have a positive subsequent effect on a senior’s mental health. For example, better physical functioning, strength, and fitness due to outdoor exercise may help seniors complete ADLs more independently, potentially leading to increased feelings of self-worth, individuality, and motivation.

What About Seniors with Poor Mobility?

Some seniors with limited mobility are not realistically able to get outdoors as often as they would like. It may be unsafe or simply take too much mental and physical effort, even with support. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help your relative enjoy the great benefits of nature and the outdoors from the comfort of their home.

For example, perhaps your loved one would enjoy indulging in their morning coffee in front of an open window, feeling the sunshine and pleasant morning breeze on their face. This could also be a great opportunity for you to take a break and chat with your loved one. You can even install a bird feeder or plant flowers outside their window to promote a connection with nature.  

If your relative has a private yard or garden they feel confident navigating, they may be able to get outside without leaving the comfort of their home environment. Make their outdoor space as inviting as possible and encourage them to enjoy their usual hobbies outside from time to time (activities like art, knitting, and board games are great options). Alternatively, why not ask if they would enjoy al fresco dining or a summer barbeque with friends and family?

How Does New Hope Senior Living Help Residents Connect with the Outdoors?

Nestled within the beautiful Hendersonville countryside, New Hope Senior Living is a truly unique residential assisted living community boasting 18 acres of lush green land. We want all our senior care residents to be free to explore our grounds and fully experience the benefits of being immersed in nature. That is why we have a range of comfortable golf carts available to support seniors with reduced mobility. Caregivers are always around to offer an additional helping hand, too.

Within New Hope Senior Living’s vast expanse of land, residents can discover beautiful spots for relaxation, reading, meditation, or socialization. During the spring, residents and staff love getting outdoors to soak up the sunshine, dine, socialize, and enjoy activities like gardening and fruit picking before the warmer summer weather sets in.

Our beautiful, assisted living home must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Contact us today to arrange a guided tour of our vibrant senior care community!

Cited Sources

[1] https://naturesacred.org/nature-seniors/
[2] https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74828-w
[4] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3546779/
[6] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13685538.2010.487551
[7]https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/175971/0300_NPHA-Loneliness-report-FINAL-doifinal.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y

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