March 7, 2012

In our last post, we talked about the opportunities for “indoor field trips” that Wii® provides. But this post is all about the great outdoors.

It’s important for your loved one to spend time outside whenever possible. Studies have shown that vitamin D, created and activated by sunlight, helps fight conditions like osteoporosis, cancer, depression and even heart attacks. Pain and stress are also reduced with exposure to natural light and fresh air.

Here are some elderly-friendly outdoor activities to keep in mind for a sunny day:

?Walk & Talk — Walking is simple, undemanding and healthy for your loved one’s body and mind. Exercising the joints, activating the muscles, stimulating the blood flow and uplifting the mood are just some of walking’s wholesome benefits. Take a walk through a park or a nature trail — the simple beauty of the natural world is incredibly therapeutic… for all ages. Not only does this activity exercise body and mind, but it also gives you and your loved one a chance to enjoy time together. This time can be spent talking or in peaceful silence — both are equally beneficial.
?Dogs & Ducks — In a previous post, we talked about the benefits of “pet therapy” for the elderly. If you or your loved one don’t own a dog, ask a friend or neighbor with one if they would let you “borrow” the dog for a therapeutic walk. Do you or your loved one live near an SPCA center? Many of these shelters offer petting or “caring for animals” activities — take advantage! Or take a trip to the local zoo. Bird-watching and duck-feeding in the park are also excellent options.
?Fish & Flowers — Fishing in a peaceful pond, on a dock or boat, is the perfect easygoing activity for a sunny, mild-weathered day. If your loved one uses a wheelchair, make sure ahead of time that the dock is wheelchair-accessible. Also, consider the well-known therapeutic effects of gardening, and flowers in general. Starting a garden is strenuous, so save that for someone with a strong back, but tending a garden is a soothing outdoor activity appropriate for your loved one. The act of “taking care of something” also provides that confidence-boosting sense of responsibility, similar to owning a pet.
Getting your loved one outside, even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day, provides the change of scenery, boost of vitamin D and exposure to nature that restores mind, body and spirit.

Take a look outside now… how’s the weather? If possible, take your loved one on an outdoor field trip today!