In the forthcoming edition of The Ivey’s bi-monthly newsletter, there is a short piece about the beautiful grounds of our campus, and how our members have the benefit of receiving certain rehabilitative therapies either inside the building, or outside in nature and the fresh air. Under the watchful eye and guiding hand of one of our amazing on-site Genesis Rehab therapists, walks around our paved path that wraps around the building has multiple benefits for health, wellness and mood.
Many of us take for granted our freedom to go out into nature whenever we want to – to enjoy fresh air, sunlight, plants and trees – but it’s something for which we should truly be grateful. (Many seniors with dementia can’t – or shouldn’t – be outside on their own due to risks like wandering.) Getting outside has the powerful ability to make us feel better, relieve the stresses of everyday living, and recharge our batteries courtesy of Mother Nature.
In fact, more and more studies are showing that being outside is not just essential for our physical health, but also for our mental health.
When you consider the fact that many people living in the northern hemisphere suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (due to a lack of bright sunlight during the winter months), you begin to see just how important getting outside into the bright sunshine is for humans. This is perhaps even more true for people living with dementia.
I, for one, always notice a significant improvement in how I feel after being outside in the daytime light for a bit. I’ve taken notice of the sights and sounds of the world around me; I’ve breathed in the fresh air; I’ve taken in some Vitamin D; and I’ve allowed my mind to slow down and refresh from the pressures of the day. Imagine the benefits to someone living with cognitive decline!
If you’re a family caregiver, I invite you to become more intentional about fitting some “outside time” into your day. It will reap major benefits for your physical and emotional stamina. Furthermore, I encourage caregivers to bring their loved ones outside, too. Walk around together, dig in the garden, or simply sit and watch the changes of light, shade, sun and clouds, plants and wildlife. You’ll be amazed at the positive effect the sunlight and fresh air will have on them.
Jessica, The Ivey’s lead rehabilitative therapist, says that when she is walking outside with our members, they will often reminisce about family walks, taking the kids to school, and other wonderful memories.
Clearly, it’s great for the body and the brain! So get out there into the sunshine. It will brighten up your day. And if you bring along your loved one, it’s a gift that will brighten their day, too!
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