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The benefits of nature and the outdoors for older people

Brendoncare Meadway residents socialising in the garden with a nurse.
Summer is now upon us, and it's the perfect time to go outside, enjoy the nice weather and appreciate nature. Alongside those aspects, people in later life enjoy real health benefits when they spend time outside.

With the current warm weather and clear, sunny skies, it seems like the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.

For people in later life, being outside is not only the perfect way to relax and enjoy nature, but there are also real benefits to enjoying the outdoors.

So, what are the benefits in spending time outside for people in later life?

Vitamin D

One of the main benefits of spending time outside for people in later life is the exposure to Vitamin D, which is often low for people in later life. Having low levels of Vitamin D can be linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, higher risk of Type 1 diabetes and several types of cancer.

Getting enough Vitamin D can lift spirits, boost your mood and can help reduce your risk some physical weaknesses – including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart attack.

Exercise and energy

Being outdoors allows people in later life to do low impact, light and safe exercise.

Getting to spend time outside can also lead to a burst of energy for people in later life. A study from the University of Rochester found that being in nature helped increase rates of energy.

Improve memory

Being outdoors can improve some behavioural symptoms of dementia for people in later life who are experiencing memory loss. This includes agitation, aggression and wandering.

Multi-sensory outdoor activities like listening to birds, smelling flowers and feeling plants and can also improve memory and attention.

Mental well-being

The relaxation that nature and being outdoors provides can improve mood and increase overall feelings of happiness. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back just looking at pictures of nature, while pictures of city scenes had no effect.

Being outdoors can also:

  • Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Lessen mental fatigue
  • Improve blood flow to the brain, which increases serotonin levels
  • Calm blood pressure, heart rate and slows the production of stress hormones

Decreases isolation

Being outdoors promotes social interaction, whether through meeting new people or spending time with friends and loved ones. Nature can also make you feel calmer, which can help decrease the feeling of isolation.

It lifts your heart… who could be miserable in a place like this, where ducks knock on your window”

Betty, Resident at Brendoncare Knightwood

At Brendoncare, our homes have expansive mature gardens and an abundance of outdoor activities where residents are encouraged and supported to get outside.

Some of our beautiful landscapes also house some lovely wildlife, which encourages residents to spend time outdoors.

For example, Brendoncare Knightwood sits in more than 4 acres of private landscaped gardens and welcomes a variety of wildlife including ducks, pheasants and deer!

Brendoncare Park Road also get regular visits from a variety of birds due to their bird feeders, and a lot of our homes encourage regular gardening and potting, as seen from Brendoncare Froxfield’s post below.

If  you are interested in learning more about what our homes have to offer, please contact 0300 303 4866 or email homes@brendoncare.org.uk.