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May 24, 2017

Older Adults’ Mental Well-Being: How a Green Space can Help

Who doesn’t enjoy a little time outdoors? Taking a little time to enjoy nature can help us feel better physically, and now research shows spending time in green spaces can help boost older adults’ mental well-being.

The small study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health monitored the brains of older adults as they walked between busy urban environments and urban green space environments. Perhaps not surprisingly, researchers discovered “participants had changes in levels of excitement, engagement and even frustration as they moved between busy and green areas.”

Aside from the noticeable brain changes, participants reported they enjoyed being in the green areas because they were calming and quieter.

A similar study published in Harvard Health found that women who spent more time in green spaces had a lower risk of mortality. The time spent in green spaces lowered levels of depression, increased social engagement and higher levels of physical activity

How to Take Advantage of Green Spaces

If you live in an area with plenty of vegetation, take advantage of it and spend time outdoors — walk around your neighborhood or find some friends or neighbors to enjoy nature. If you live in an area without much vegetation, consider planting trees or shrubbery on your property, or if you live in an urban area, encourage your city to build more green spaces.

4 Ways Create Your Own Green Space

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to a green space. You can create one on your property or even indoors. Here’s how:

1. Plant a garden that attracts bees and butterflies: Nectar-rich plants like buddleia, lavender, sedum and cosmos will attract beneficial insects like butterflies and bees.

2. Give the birds something to eat: Place a few bird feeders around your garden or yard to attract birds and help them survive during the colder months. Birds in your garden gives you something enjoyable to watch and it helps keep garden pests at bay.

3. Take nature indoors: Bring the outside in by adding some household plants, stone, wood and even a small fountain to your living spaces. Studies have shown houseplants can have myriad benefits including improved focus and cleaner air.

4. Create a terrarium: If you’d rather not bring in houseplants (or you just don’t have a green thumb), try putting together a terrarium. The decorative possibilities are endless. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large glass container with a lid
  • Newspaper
  • Miniature decorative items
  • Good-quality potting soil
  • Aquarium rocks
  • Assorted small plants

For more information on assembly, read this article from HGTV.

Whether it’s spending time outdoors or creating your own green space, you can easily take advantage of the benefits of nature.

Remaining Active

Healthy aging is hard on your own. Kendal at Home can help you age well and enjoy your retirement.

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