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Nature Nurtures Seniors

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy,

If a blade of grass springing up in the fields has the power to move you,

If the simple things of nature have a message that you understand,

Rejoice, for your soul is alive.   – Eleonora Duse

Taking a walk in the woods, sitting on a beach by the ocean, or puttering in the garden can nurture the soul.  Being in nature can have a profound impact on both physical and mental well-being. This is particularly important for seniors who face increasing physical limitations and mental challenges, such as loneliness and depression. The calming effect of nature can encourage physical activity and promote a sense of peace and relaxation.  In fact, doctors in 35 states are prescribing nature as a means to treat a variety of mental and physical ailments!

Physical Health Benefits of Being in Nature

Regular exposure to natural settings can encourage physical activity, which is vital for maintaining mobility and overall health in our elderly population. Even simple activities like walking in a park or gardening can make a significant difference in a senior’s physical health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving longevity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists better sleep quality, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure as the immediate effects.  The longer-term effects include healthier bones, improved balance and coordination, and stronger hearts. (CDC). 

Mental Health Benefits of Being in Nature

As people age, they face an onslaught of triggers for depression and anxiety.  Declining physical ability, death of friends or spouses, increasing world complexity all may contribute to a sense of loss of control, isolation, and confusion. Some seniors take the changes in stride, but others become upset and depressed. Spending time in green spaces (grass, plants, trees) and blue spaces (ponds, lakes, oceans) can be a small step with big rewards in relieving these negative feelings.  The American Psychological Association notes, “exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation” (APA). The National Institute on Aging adds, “Spending time in nature has been shown to have a positive effect on mood and mental health” (NIA). This is particularly important for those seniors who struggle with life’s changes.

Bringing Nature Inside

For seniors who are bed-bound or who have limited mobility, bringing nature inside can offer many of the same benefits as spending time outdoors. One way to do this is by incorporating houseplants into their living space. According to Healthline, “studies show that being surrounded by greenery can help with cleaning the surrounding air, creating a sense of well-being, and enhancing your life.” Houseplants can boost mood, productivity, concentration, and creativity, reduce stress, fatigue, and even symptoms of anxiety and depression. (Healthline). Additionally, setting up a bird feeder outside a window can provide a pleasant and engaging view of nature. Watching birds can be both soothing and stimulating, offering a daily connection to the natural world. An aquarium can add a relaxing connection to water and life. The gurgling sounds of the water pump and the swirl of swimming fish can be mesmerizing.

Hydroponic gardening brings the plants inside.

Creating a Natural Indoor Environment

The healing, calming benefits of nature can occur even through depictions of the natural world. Pictures of landscapes, flowers, and animals can help bring the beauty of nature indoors. Digital aquariums can do the trick too. Another idea is to use essential oils or natural scents, such as lavender or eucalyptus, which can have calming effects. The Mayo Clinic mentions that “Aromatherapy may improve the quality of life, particularly for those with chronic health conditions” (Mayo Clinic). These small touches can make a big difference in creating a more natural and peaceful environment for seniors.


In summary, nature is vital for the well-being of seniors, offering numerous mental and physical health benefits. For those who are bed-bound, bringing elements of nature inside can help maintain these benefits and improve their quality of life. Simple changes, like adding houseplants or nature-themed artwork, can create a comforting and health-enhancing environment.

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