As adults get older, it seems they spend more time indoors. Recovering from an injury, as well as experiencing lower energy and limited mobility, makes it harder for seniors to get outdoors and enjoy nature. However, not spending time in nature can take a toll on mental health and negatively impact day-to-day life for seniors.
According to NBC News, individuals are less likely to get a stuffy nose or other cold-like symptoms when they spend more time outside. It prevents them from breathing in the same air – and bacteria – that are in a home.
"Green spaces greatly reduced the mental stress seniors were under."
A recent study from the University of York showed that spending time in green spaces greatly reduced the mental stress seniors were under. The reason for this is because being in nature doesn't require as much mental concentration as navigating a city or a smartphone does. This can lower stress signals and give individuals a chance to relax.
However, some seniors may find it difficult to take a walk in the woods, even with the help of a home care aide. Instead, bring the nature to them with a small garden in or immediately outside the home. Mark Chapman, M.D. noted that taking a few minutes each day to tend to a patch of green offers the same benefits as spending long stretches of time outdoors.
Here's how home health aides can incorporate greenery for their patients:
Hang and maintain plants within the home. If a patient has limited mobility, hang or place plants around the home. They offer a soothing atmosphere – and pleasant smell – and seniors can maintain them. Just make sure to keep potted plants off the floor, as they can pose a tripping hazard for patients.
You can also open the windows during the day. Fresh air will make a residence feel more open and relaxing and keep new air circulating.
Increase sun exposure. Vitamin D is a key ingredient for maintaining bone strength as well as regulating mood. Seniors who spend a large amount of time inside may have a lower intake of this vitamin. Throw the curtains open to let in sunlight. In addition, sun lamps can be a helpful tool for increasing brightness throughout the house.
To learn more about working with geriatric patients, consider enrolling in classes like "Culture Change: Understanding The Quality of Life Domains" with Mariposa Training today.