Nature Therapy Improving Senior Lives
Updated: Jan 13
Nature is all around us. It is a part of our everyday routine from the time we wake up to when we go to bed. It can be as subtle as a landscape photo on a computer screen, phone screen, or a picture frame to having a plant at home or physically being outside.
Now, think back to the last time you were outside and picture in your mind what you were doing. Were you on the phone, eating or having a drink, going for a walk, whatever you were doing, think about how you felt at that time? Relaxed, calm, happy, free. This is because nature plays a role not only in your emotional wellbeing, but pain management, and physical recovery. Nature also has a positive impact on your quality of life and care. It possesses many beneficial factors especially as we age.
There have been over 200 studies about nature and its therapeutic effects. Neuroscience studies have found experiences related to nature create a positive distraction and help a person to refocus their attention. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology compares Stress reduction theory and Attention restoration theory to determine the extent to which nature plays a role.
“Is the benefits of a nature experience a result of gaining distance from everyday concerns or is it a result of positive engagement with natural elements?”
In the article “Nature contact and mood benefits: contact duration and mood type” published in 2018, researchers investigated whether five minutes of contact with nature had any impact on a person’s mood. The results of their study indicated that “five minutes of nature contact improved both hedonic and self-transcendent emotions.”
Utilizing nature as a form of therapy is something everyone of all ages should consider. As we age it becomes more important. Studies have found that contact with nature can help to prevent the onset of dementia. A senior-friendly activity to do, that incorporates nature is gardening. Researchers have found that daily gardening reduces the risk factors for dementia by 36%. Gardening slows down the cognitive decline in seniors who have dementia, it is a great form of exercise and improves the quality and quantity of sleep. Another thing that improves is mood by 40%. This is due to sensory stimulation. Mint for example improves memory and digestion, helps with coughs and headaches, and decreases nausea and depression. Touching, smelling, looking at nature all have positive effects.
It’s something anyone can do, at any point in time, at any age. Take five minutes, step outside and smell the fresh air. That’s all it takes. If you have a loved one who is inside all day start an indoor garden. Some easy plants to grow indoors that are easy for seniors to take care of include the Snake Plant, Gerbera Daisy, Areca Palm (all are great for increasing oxygen), ZZ plant, Hedgehog Aloe, or Spider Plant.
Snake Plant Spider Plant ZZ Plant