5 Ways Being Outdoors Can Enhance Mental Health in Older Adults

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Many older adults spend the majority of their days indoors. However, getting outside for some sunshine and fresh air offers seniors a number of health benefits. In fact, being outdoors has been shown to boost cognitive health in the following ways.

1. Elevates Vitamin D Levels

Approximately 50 percent of older adults have vitamin D deficiencies. A lack of this vital nutrient can affect cognitive function. Seniors who lack the vitamin may develop depression and experience mood changes and overall cognitive decline, among other health issues. Exposing the skin to direct sunlight for as little as 15 to 20 minutes each day helps the body manufacture vitamin D. Nutritionists recommend that older adults spend a little bit of time under the sun as often as possible. 

If you usually help your loved one get out and about but need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Mesa families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home.

2. Alleviates Allergy Symptoms

Many older adults have indoor allergies. Some don’t develop symptoms until they reach middle age or later. Seniors might also have asthma. Various chemical cleaners, dust, mold, and pet dander are some of the allergy triggers that can make older adults miserable. However, by getting outside, older adults have a chance to breathe fresh air away from the antigens that trigger allergic reactions. By gaining relief from allergy symptoms, seniors are likely to feel better, both physically and mentally.

3. Encourages Physical Activity

Being outdoors often motivates seniors to go for a walk, work in the garden, or engage in some other type of physical activity. When a senior is more physically active, the brain is better able to function and commonly releases “feel-good” hormones. The more often seniors participate in some type of outdoor activity, the more likely they are to become stronger and enjoy a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. 

Seniors with mobility issues or health conditions who need assistance with getting out of the house can benefit from the help of trained professional caregivers. Mesa elderly home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

4. Enhances Sleep

Staying indoors day in and day out can alter the body’s circadian rhythm, inhibiting the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep the entire night. Without sufficient sleep, aging adults may feel unnecessarily groggy during the day, and they might also be more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and other issues. By exposing the body to natural sunlight, seniors encourage the body’s natural rhythms to function with greater efficiency.

5. Reduces Stress

The Japanese commonly participate in an activity known as “shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing. In 2005, a group of Japanese researchers accompanied a group of adults into the forest for a leisurely visit. All spent time in the natural outdoors for three days. For three days before the trip, each individual underwent blood and urine tests to get a baseline of blood cell counts and hormone levels. Once the group went into the forest, the subjects were tested daily. The scientists discovered levels of the stress hormone adrenaline gradually decreased. The researchers also found that while in the forest, the immune system was enhanced, exhibiting an increased number of certain white blood cells. The immunity enhancement continued for up to 30 days after forest bathing. 

Stress and mental challenges are common for many aging adults, but seniors don’t have to manage them alone. In Mesa, at-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Call Home Care Assistance at (480) 699-4899 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.