December 2, 2022
We call the great outdoors “great” not only because of the breathtaking panoramas and wide expanses that greet us every time we go outside. It’s also because of the utterly unique experiences that we feel each time we immerse ourselves in its wonders.
If so, is it any wonder that many assisted living communities offering memory care services encourage their residents with Alzheimer’s to get out and enjoy nature? Of course, given their condition, it’s imperative to give them proper guidance whenever they leave the community (senior living) to commune with nature.
As we have shown, The Lantern of Chagrin Falls retirement community is designed to help our residents reach their goals.
We recommend most of these activities based on studies that have already proven the benefits of nature-related activities as they relate to the practice of green dementia care. However, You’ll notice that the Svayus program has a unique twist, in the activities we encourage our residents at our Chagrin senior living community to take part in.
Keeping this in mind, let’s begin with the fact that the subjective experience of every individual must be considered when interacting with nature.
Residents may already be limited by their conditions, so it goes without saying that the activities they should be involved in should always be decided according to their limitations. However, we cannot discount the importance of personalizing the activities as much as possible.
We call this personality exclusive learning, but, of course, it doesn’t have to be exclusive to education (although we can make the case that nature is a wonderful teacher!).
Nevertheless, the motivation provided by the activity is important as it will secure mental and physical participation in the activity. The familiarity of the activity will give the Alzheimer’s resident a sense of comfort since it is familiar.
Now, if you can’t think of any particular activity to do once you leave the confines of the senior community, know that you virtually can’t go wrong with walking. A fresh forest bath every now and then can refresh literally everyone, so you may want to try that out first.
We’re more than willing to bet that the majority of elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease will find the activity most relaxing and engaging. Assuming there are parks and outdoor recreation areas in your community, all better if you can immerse them in nature’s gifts.
Physical limitations of the person must be taken into account. Visitors may need to walk a challenging trail, so be sure he or she is capable before venturing out.
At Lantern assisted living, our residents can hit two birds with one stone by planting and cultivating their own gardens and then harvesting the healthy produce they cultivated. Besides being a physical activity that enhances one’s well-being, gardening is also a social endeavor that enriches everyone who partakes in it.
If they’re still new to gardening, choose easy-to-grow plants and vegetables. In addition to providing a sense of immense satisfaction to the resident, the harvest also leaves a lasting impression that turns into memorable moments.
It is a wise idea to be extra careful when allowing your children to handle gardening tools when participating in any gardening activity. The majority of tools are sharp enough or blunt enough to cause serious injury when mishandled. Provide tools that are easy to handle for dementia seniors. If you live near a gardening store, ask them which ones are relatively easier to work with.
Studies prove that spending a couple of hours in different venues that are inherently associated with nature can be greatly beneficial for the elderly. Having positive, memorable encounters with animals is one of them.
Why? We feel more comfortable around animals we are familiar with or are tame. As evidenced by the decreased blood pressure and depression rates of seniors who visit zoos regularly. This also applies to people who interact with farm animals on a regular basis.
Do you know why there’s such a positive correlation to these specific locales? Experts say they trigger fond childhood memories in almost everyone.
These venues not only afford a different experience to seniors but they also present perfect opportunities to do light exercises like walking and even meet new people in the process. The caretakers themselves will undoubtedly find these regular excursions equally beneficial and refreshing. Sometimes you are unable to take your loved one to the farm or to the zoo, at The Lantern of Chagrin Valley, Assisted living we offer service dogs for your loved ones.
Every time we discuss the importance of making social connections and communicating with nature, we mention once again how important it is. Dementia seniors can enrich their social lives by participating in these activities, and they will be able to combat the debilitating effects of the disease.
Consider, for example, interacting with them over a light walk or hike by asking about their interests or letting them know what they think of the sights you are seeing. It’s possible that you might look back on one another’s pasts, which is good for their memory.
Lastly, don’t let your preconceived ideas about how each activity should be performed cloud your enjoyment of it. Providing it is engaging and nurturing, why point them in an alternate direction?
Communing with nature, for most of us regardless of our age, is, on the whole, and aptly, a natural endeavor. You should not overlook that when planning and doing any of the recommendations we highlighted here. Aim for activities that are as organic, uncomplicated (but not to the point of becoming boring and unengaging), and familiar as possible. And more importantly, something that the senior actually likes to do.
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