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How The Outdoors Benefits Seniors Living with Dementia

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“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed,” said naturalist and author John Burroughs. There’s much wisdom in those words as there is more and more evidence that the outdoors is good for us, especially those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It not only helps reduce symptoms of these conditions, but also lifts the mood of your loved one and offers a few moments of calm and enjoyment for your whole family.

Having secure and well-planned outdoor spaces is important, which is what makes memory care at Peregrine Senior Living such an outstanding choice. Our secured garden areas and secured patios offer the entire family an opportunity to spend time together and reap the benefits.

Benefits of the outdoors for dementia:  how Mother Nature heals.

Fresh air and fresh perspective

There’s something freeing and inspiring about being outside, and that doesn’t fade with time. Taking your loved one outdoors opens up possibilities for social interaction with fellow memory care residents, their families, and staff members of the community. It offers a sense of control and self-awareness, sometimes triggering fond memories of times spent outdoors as a child. Whether your loved one can walk, or is in a wheelchair, going outdoors can offer a whole new world.  

Tapping the green thumb

If your loved one loved to garden, having the opportunity to get some dirt on their hands can be relaxing and focus their minds on the task at hand. They’re not just getting Vitamin D, they are connecting with positive energy and feeling a sense of purpose. Working in a garden increases serotonin and naturally lifts your mood. And if they aren’t fans of working in the garden, they can still enjoy its beauty and natural fragrance. Aromas and the touch of certain plants can stimulate happy memories. 

Improving sleep and diet

If your loved one is still mobile, walking through a secured garden area or on an outdoor patio can help calm the mind and give them the opportunity to feel the sun and breeze. If they are confined to a wheelchair, you can still take them outside and let them enjoy the natural warmth. Not only is it exercise, it can help with sleep quality. And if possible, you might try bringing finger foods for a mini-picnic, which can stimulate the appetite. Benefits of the outdoors for dementia include finding creative ways to have fun again.

Enhancing mood and reducing agitation

Caregivers know that dementia is about more than memory loss. It also may involve aggression, agitation, anxiety, and depression. And while there are medications that can help treat these symptoms, recent research has shown that non-drug treatments, such as time spent in nature, can be more effective, especially when it comes to physical aggression. For example, the relaxing sounds of wind through grasses, chimes, or water features can soothe and reduce agitation.

Playing outdoor games increases concentration

Was your loved one a wiz at checkers many years ago? It’s possible that taking him or her outdoors for a game might bring back some of those skills, as being outdoors can increase concentration. Even if their skills are not quite up to par, just the act of playing a game outside can stimulate positive memories. And it’s a great way to involve grandchildren in the visit. When it comes to the benefits of the outdoors for dementia, it’s clear that everyone wins. 

A fresh perspective on memory care.

The Peregrine Way™ is our unique approach to memory care that helps improve the quality of life for residents and their families through unsurpassed care. We invite you to learn more. Download our free guide: Just the Facts: Memory Care for more information. Learn more about The Peregrine Way™Contact us today.

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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