Balancing Effect Of Nature On The Elderly
“Among the other psychological benefits of contact with nature, it has been found that people’s attentional resources have been restored and mental fatigue is reduced”
It has been found that walkable green spaces are associated with greater longevity in older people. Spending leisure time in gardens can have a positive impact on their health as well as mental functioning. Also, moments spent within the serenity of nature is linked to a reduced risk of developing dementia and better mental functioning.
Patients with a chronic condition like Alzheimer’s disease also show improved group interaction it they visit gardens at different times of the day. And older adults who spend longer durations of time in a park or shown a scenic view from their apartments, experience reduced blood pressure levels.
The Impact Of Nature
The “View from a Window” study put forward by Ulrich between 1972 and 1981, made waves in the medical fraternity, adding a new angle to the health and wellness in older adults. It was an observation made with 46 post surgery patients. A total of 23 patients had a stark view of the hospital brick walls, while 23 were put in rooms with a view of natural greenery and calm serene surroundings. Results showed that the brick wall view’ patients required stronger doses of pain management medication and had severe behavioral issues, while the ‘window view’ patients looking out on nature had shorter duration of hospital stays, received a few negative evaluations and took less potent analgesics!
The balancing effect of nature on elderly with psycho-physiological imbalance and the positive experiences of natural surroundings on their blood pressure. pulse rate and concentration levels was highlighted by studies made by Lawton and Killer. Among the other psychological benefits of contact with nature, it has been found that people’s attentional resources have been restored and mental fatigue is reduced.
Green Spaces & A Healthy Mind
According to Kaplan and Kaplan (1989, 1995) visual access to greenery helps restore the mind’s ability to locus and helps alleviate mental stress and illness in older adults. Investments in landscaping, vegetation and parks contribute to holistic wellness in the long -run.
Parks and green spaces provide serenity and its calm setting offers cognitive respite. enriches the mind and offers opportunities for social interaction. It creates a distressing and soothing environment through exercise and social interaction.
Places built with parks, lakes and beautiful walkways incorporated into exquisite architectural creations create inspiring environments that encourage learning, inquisitiveness, and alertness. But sadly, this kind of environment is hardly found in overcrowded cities of present time. It adds to the woes of the elderly who find it a nightmare to step out of their homes which are their ‘safety zones.’
Green urban pockets offer a good opportunity and places for the elderly. It brings mental relaxation and they can exercise within a serene environment that helps cognitive development. The experience with nature helps to restore the mind from mental fatigue. tackles daily stress for the elderly and for youngsters contributes to improved work and study performance with increased satisfaction. These benefits extend to all elderly folk and also for those with special needs such as a persons diagnosed with depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
A Restorative Environment
For the elderly to stay active and independent, the environment should oiler stimulation, maintenance, and support. These positive outcomes from interaction with nature are attributed to a combination of physical activity, excitement, a calm environment, sunshine, fresh air, and socializing. For the environment to be restorative, four elements have been put forward by Kaplan and Kaplan:
- Fascination leading to curiosity and interest.
- The sense of being away from usual settings and situations.
- A sense of involvement as relating to being part of a whole design.
- The setting being compatible with individual inclination.
Need Of The Hour
It should be kept in mind, that exposure to nature and spaces for social interaction and exercise is crucial for hospitals, prisons, and workplaces as natural serenity and access to the outdoors, works wonders in reducing stress. It is also imperative for us to create friendly cities with facilities to encourage the elderly to step out safely without fear and anxiety into green surroundings, so that they can interact with nature.
Spreading awareness for the provision of safe walking spaces, footpaths and walkways and benches wherever possible, to help the elderly to rest if tired, and little kiosks for socialization is also important.
Self-contained townships with banking, grocery, pharmacy, hospital, post office, entertainment and other amenities along with transportation keeping the elderly and their special needs in mind, is the need of the hour.