The benefits of spending time outdoors are manifold and it’s something most of us can appreciate. After all, it’s called the ‘great’ outdoors for a reason.
However, sometimes, those in their golden years need a little encouragement to venture outside – especially if their mobility is limited.
There are a number of beneficial reasons for doing so though, which means it might be good to offer encouragement to your loved one and remind them of the benefits if they’re feeling a little reluctant to venture beyond the walls of their home or care facility.
The sun on your face, or a cooling breeze, can instantly make you feel better – as can crisp air on a winter’s morning. We’re sure everyone is familiar with the term ‘cabin fever’ where too much time indoors can leave you feeling a little restless. Often, a simple afternoon in the garden can be enough to make you feel better as you take in some much needed fresh air.
Savouring the scents and smells of freshly cut grass and flowers can really help to reinvigorate the mind.
At Goatacre we take great pride in our garden, and, while our nursing team are responsible for the bulk of its upkeep, we encourage residents to continue their gardening interests during their stay with us.
We’re currently undertaking changes to make our outdoor space more accessible – including the construction of a sensory garden to help residents maintain that natural connection.
Actively encouraging this amongst residents of a green-fingered disposition can work wonders to boost mental wellbeing so it’s something we’re aspiring to offer for all residents.
All of our new rooms, for example, have patios, providing a level of accessibility that makes it much easier for residents to take in regular fresh air.
Strengthen immune system
It’s not just mental health that benefits. Studies suggest being outdoors can increase your white blood cell count, giving your immune system a welcome lift – something that’s especially important in the elderly.
A recent trend in the UK, for example, has seen people undertaking something called ‘forest bathing’, which stems from a Japanese tradition called shinrin-yoku, where exponents spend time in woodland, soaking up the natural ambience and its associated therapeutic benefits.
While we’re not necessarily advocating taking your loved one for a few days in the forest, it certainly taps into the theme of enjoying the outdoors to improve health, which can assist with emotional healing, decreased blood pressure and improved circadian rhythm.
Keep vitamin D levels up
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, so, by spending time outdoors, your loved one will soak up some much-needed nutrients. Vitamin D has been linked with a reduction in the risk of a number of physical ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and even heart attacks – meaning it’s important to stay topped up, with being outdoors playing a large part in that.
Enhanced relationships and diminished isolation
A love of gardening and just enjoyment for the outdoors in general can be something that helps to foster a bond with both fellow residents and the care team.
At Goatacre Manor, we do what we can to encourage our residents to enjoy going outdoors. We’re even blessed with a cricket pitch right next door to the home, so, many of our residents enjoy sitting in the garden during the summer, watching Goatacre CC take on visiting teams – while the pavilion also operates as a bar and social club too, which residents are welcome to engage with. Indeed, those who want to can even become cricket club members should they so wish.
It’s a great excuse to spend a prolonged period enjoying natural surroundings – while also sharing in the enjoyment of the spectacle with other residents.
We also regularly host a variety of outdoor activities, such as fetes, singalongs, tea parties and even fireworks in the garden on the odd occasion, which all helps to make the most of our external facilities, while we often accompany our residents on walks, assisting with wheelchairs when required.
For more information on the outdoor goings-on that we offer at Goatacre, why not get in touch?