When you live in the north, the first nice day lures residents outdoors. We don’t even wait for spring. We walk our dogs, mow our lawns, plant seeds, take walks and enjoy the weather.
However, sometimes, as we grow older, we lose the urge to bask in the sun and smell the grass growing. That’s not good for our health. It’s even worse for the health of our parents.
We’ve frequently been told that it’s not a good idea for older people to go outdoors, because of the risk of skin cancer or the risk of medication-caused sunburn. However, everyone needs some sunlight, and older people need more to generate vitamin D.
People over the age of 50 have an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency (link to sunlight blog). The best way to get vitamin D is through 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight before 10 o’clock a couple of times a week.
Sunlight also stimulates the production of endorphins, which makes everyone happier.
Science has proven that being in nature, even if it’s a community garden or a nearby park, benefits everyone. Contact with the natural environment increases attention, reduces stress, boosts positive emotions and, when done with others, promotes social engagement and support.
Numerous studies have focused on the advantages older adults receive from contact with nature. “We zoomed in to everyday life for seniors between the ages of 65 and 86. We discovered how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers, can have a tremendous impact on overall health,” said one study’s lead author, Jessica Finlay.
Her study found that contact with nature
- Encourages physical activity and engagement
- Increases energy
- Fights depression
- Boosts memory
- Improves physical health
Spring Activities for Seniors
However, some of the outdoor activities we may enjoy, such as walking the dog or jogging, may be too strenuous for our parents. Try these activities to enjoy time with your parent as both of you experience the joy of spring:
Visit a zoo or aquarium
Enjoy the animals, the babies born in the spring, and the children who are always present. Most zoos have wheelchairs for rent if your parent gets tired.
Pack a picnic
You don’t have to go far to relax with a picnic lunch. Bring along a lawn chair (or two) so your parent (and you) can easily get off the ground.
Go to a nearby park
Enjoy the children playing and people walking their dogs at a nearby park. Many parks also have picnic tables and grills, so you can have your picnic lunch without having to tote chairs.
Take a drive
Remember when you were a child, and your parents would take you on leisurely car rides on Sunday? Why not return the favor? You won’t get the benefits of being in the sun, but your parent is sure to enjoy it anyway.
Listen to the music
Many communities offer regular free outdoor concerts during the spring and summer. Bring along a couple of chairs so you can sit and enjoy the music.
Outdoor church services
During the summer, some churches hold services outside. If one near you offers the opportunity, try it.
If your parent has a favorite restaurant, schedule a lunch or, perhaps, Sunday brunch after church. Socialization poses a problem for many older people, and the more they’re around others, the better.
Small festivals are not known for easy-to-access parking, but they don’t take up acres of land as amusement parks do. Even if you have to walk or push a wheelchair a few blocks, it may be worth it.
Senior center travel excursions
Most towns have an Area Agency on Aging, and many offer one-day excursions specifically for older adults.
Even if your parent is wheelchair-bound, they can still fish. If your dad has always loved fishing, why not give it a go?
Get a pair (or two) of binoculars and a bird guide and discover how many you can spot. Or expand the concept into a contest to determine how many animals you can spot. At many state parks, you don’t even have to get out of the car to enjoy this game.
At The Arbors Assisted Living Residential Communities, we offer bowling, spa days, shopping outings, bus trips, and live entertainment. Even during the winter, residents and their families enjoy our sunrooms, but in the spring, you’re more likely to find them chatting in the courtyard or gardening.
We believe in creating an engaging, stimulating environment that respects the privacy and encourages the independence of residents. We promote a lifestyle of health and wellness, with programs that benefit brain health, physical fitness and more.
If you have questions about how The Arbors can help your parent live an independent, active, fulfilling life, please contact us.