Summer, Things To Do, Nature

4 reasons for older people to spend more time in nature this spring

Posted 1st March 2022

As the weather slowly warms and bare tree branches don a familiar green, spring is prime time to be out in nature. After being cooped up inside for the best part of two years, most people are raring to get outside more. With most Covid-19 restrictions now lifted and the worst of the stormy weather hopefully behind us, the upcoming months are sure to be filled with walks, picnics, BBQ’s and sports.
For older people, the appeal is the same. Many will have spent time away from loved ones, friends and family. So, here are four reasons for older people to make the most of going outside this spring:
Being in nature has significant mental health benefits
Scientific research has identified that walks in nature can improve cognitive function by up to 20%, proving that not only is the outdoors beautiful, it has benefits for our mental health too. For older people or those in long-term care, it's important to diversify the environments that they spend time in. Being outdoors has a large part to play in caring for your mental health, helping to prevent boredom, lower levels of anxiety, stress and depression, boost creativity and reduce loneliness.
The cognitive benefits of spending time in nature are particularly prevalent for dementia patients too
Outdoor activities offer innumerable physical health benefits 
Outdoor activities such as tennis, gardening and cycling have proven to ward off muscle aches in later life. The NHS recommends that over-65s undertake around 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. ‘Moderate intensity’ activities include actions such as cycling, walking or pushing a lawn mower. These are low-impact and accessible to all, often easily done in a garden or local area. 
Physical activities are also an ideal time to be social. They help people to see friends and family and to get out of the house with a purpose. During the Covid-19 lockdown, most established structures and habits went out the window. It's helpful to re-introduce those patterns by including deliberate physical activity into a daily routine.
It's a safe way to meet friends and family
The UK government recently lifted all Coronavirus restrictions including self-isolation, social-distancing regulations and the mask-wearing mandate. Whether the action is premature or not is yet to be seen, however the fact remains that older people and those in care are more clinically vulnerable than the average citizen. Therefore, meeting friends and family outdoors where there is plenty of fresh air, the ability to social-distance and no limit on how many people can gather may be the best way to spend time together in the coming months.
Avoid the summer heat
The past eight years have been the hottest on record, and the high temperatures are projected to continue. As the more mellow season, spring is the perfect time for older people to make the most of being outdoors. Extreme heat poses several potential health risks to those in older age, including headaches, dizziness, fainting, and in more extreme cases, heatstroke. Of course, it's important to still venture outside during summer, but spring offers a safer environment for physical activities.

What if time outdoors isn’t practical?

For those wanting to experience some of the benefits of spending time outside but for which might not be a practical option, even the act of bringing some greenery inside can help.
House plants are more than just a decorative choice. Research has found they can help indoor environments feel calmer and more stress-free, some improve air quality and the act of caring for houseplants can create a productive and therapeutic routine.
For more information on how you can care for both your loved one’s wishes as well as their practical needs, or for extra support, contact the Devoted team. We will be more than happy to answer your questions.

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