Nothing beats the serenity of a quiet stroll serenaded by birdsong and crunching leaves or the comforting warmth of feeding or petting an animal.

It’s no surprise, then, that connecting with nature hugely benefits mental and physical health. And these effects are just as profound for seniors in retirement.

What Are the Benefits of Nature Connection? 

According to an article published in the American Psychological Association (APA) magazine, spending time in nature can lead to many cognitive and mental health benefits.1 These benefits may include feeling calmer and happier, socializing, and exercising more, and improving sleep quality and vitamin D exposure.2 

What Does the Most Recent Research Say About Nature Connection and Seniors?

Alongside the general benefits above, much research has explored the impacts of nature-based activities on seniors specifically. 

Here Are 5 of the Most Recent Studies in This Area:

    1. To create an evidence map, a 2024 study analyzed the results of 12 previous studies on nature-based interventions, including hiking, therapeutic gardens, forest sounds, and virtual reality. It concluded that nature-based interventions help seniors maintain and enhance functional abilities, improving their health, well-being, and quality of life.3 
    2. A 2020 study found that seniors who completed 24 therapeutic horticulture sessions experienced reduced anxiety, improved cognitive functioning, and increased mean happiness scores after each session.4 
    3. A 2019 literature review of 42 earlier studies found ‘numerous examples’ of the power of nature for the health and wellness of seniors and suggested that occupational therapists could benefit from these findings.5 
    4. Another 2019 study found that factors including reduced mobility limited nature experiences for seniors. However, the study also discovered that retirement could provide younger seniors more time to engage with nature. Importantly, this research highlighted that opportunities to connect with nature are valued by nearly all adults, regardless of their health or age.6 
    5. A 2018 study investigated factors affecting the quality and extent of nature engagement in older adults. These factors included frailty, home type, and whether they lived alone. Most seniors in the study reported reduced engagement with nature and expressed frustration, anger, and sadness. This study also found that access to gardens was critical in facilitating contact with nature.7 

How Can You Help Seniors Spend More Time Around Nature?

Enhancing a senior’s connection to nature doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, and it’s possible even if they cannot get outdoors. Here are a few indoor and outdoor activities to help your loved one reap the health and well-being benefits of the natural world.

8 Outdoor Nature-Based Activities

    • Visit a farm or zoo
    • Take up gardening
    • Go on a fishing trip
    • Take a walk
    • Visit the seaside
    • Go for a picnic in the park
    • Go fruit picking
    • Try your hand at nature photography

8 Indoor Nature-Based Activities

    • Nurture indoor plants
    • Listen to rainforest/seaside sounds (this can be great for getting to sleep!)
    • Install a bird feeder or bath outside the window
    • Practice flower arranging
    • Decorate with natural colors (e.g., greens, blues, browns)
    • Do some cloud spotting
    • Create a terrarium 
    • Grow fruits or vegetables

How Does New Hope Senior Living Prioritize Nature Connection?

As a rural assisted living community nestled within 18-acres of private land accessible by state-of-the-art golf carts, nature is an intrinsic part of day-to-day life at New Hope Senior Living. Our community is perfect for seniors looking for a tranquil retirement and those passionate about spending time immersed in nature. 

Residents have access to the full expanse of our land, including a fruit-filled orchard and beautiful shaded woodland, and they often enjoy outings in the nearby Hendersonville countryside. For example, summer is the perfect season for picnics, birdwatching, or hiking!

Why Choose Assisted Living at New Hope?

With room for just 13 residents, New Hope Senior Living is much more than an assisted living community, we are a home. Residents form strong friendships and enjoy fulfilling lifestyles, with 24/7 tailored senior care from highly trained staff. Our meticulously selected caregivers offer support with a range of activities of daily living (ADLs) as needed, adapting their approach to help every resident feel empowered and supported equally. 

Residents at New Hope enjoy fresh, chef-prepared farm-to-table meals featuring seasonal ingredients each day. These meals often include fruits and vegetables nurtured and picked by residents passionate about horticulture. When residents aren’t enjoying delicious meals or relaxing in our beautifully appointed Hendersonville home, they can stay entertained by participating in various hobbies and activities, including pie bake-offs, arts and crafts, board games, yoga, and book club.

Arrange A Guided Tour Today

To get an authentic taste of life at New Hope Senior Living and discover why people say our home is ‘full of love,’ ‘a beautiful setting,’ and ‘the perfect balance of luxury and comfort,’ get in touch today and schedule a visit.  

References

    1. Weir K. Nurtured by nature. Monitor on psychology. Published April 1, 2020;51(3):50. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature. Accessed June 24, 2024.
    2. Family Resource. 5 benefits of spending time in nature: Why the elderly should get outside. Published April 27, 2023. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.familyresourcehomecare.com/5-benefits-of-spending-time-in-nature/.
    3. Catissi G, Gouveia G, Savieto RM, et al. Nature-based interventions targeting elderly people’s health and well-being: An evidence map. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2024;21(1):112. doi: 10.3390/ijerph21010112.
    4. Sia A, Tam WWS, Fogel A, Kua EH, Khoo K, Ho RCM. Nature-based activities improve the well-being of older adults. Sci Rep. 2020;10:18178. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74828-w.
    5. Gagliardi C, Piccinini F. The use of nature-based activities for the well-being of older people: An integrative literature review. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2019;83. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2019.05.012.
    6. Freeman C, Waters DL, Buttery Y, van Heezik Y. The impacts of ageing on connection to nature: the varied responses of older adults. Health Place. 2019;56(10):24-33. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.01.010.
    7. Van Heezik Y, Freeman C, Buttery Y, Waters DL. Factors affecting the extent and quality of nature engagement of older adults living in a range of home types. Environ Behav. 2018;52(8). doi: 10.1177/0013916518821148.
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