Picture yourself taking a walk through a park; you feel the sun on your face as it shines through the trees and a light breeze in your hair as you listen to the birds chirping and the squirrels scurrying across the forest floor. You feel connected with nature, alert, and more energized. All your senses are stimulated.
There are benefits of being outside for all of us, but spending time in nature can be especially beneficial for people living with dementia. If you are a caregiver for or know someone living with dementia, encouraging outdoor activities can positively impact their quality of life.
Uplands Village is a Life Plan Community nestled on 500-acres in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Our campus offers various outdoor activities, views, and opportunities for residents and guests to enjoy. Below, our team highlights how being outside can positively impact individuals living with dementia.
Spark Meaningful Memories
One of the most common symptoms of dementia is memory loss. However, this usually has the most significant impact on a person’s short-term memory, leaving their long-term memories intact. One of the benefits of being outside for a person living with dementia is that they can visit places that spark these older, meaningful memories.
For example, if you used to take family vacations to the beach, taking a day trip to a beach with your parent can stimulate their mind. Hearing the sound of the waves or smelling the ocean air may awaken memories and strengthen your connection with your parent. It doesn’t have to be the same beach you would visit growing up; just being in a similar setting can help spark memories and conversations.
Stimulate the Senses
Sensory stimulation is important for people living with dementia, and spending time in nature is a great way to stimulate them at once.
A simple walk through a park can engage the senses in a way that can’t be done indoors. Going a step further, such as encouraging activities like gardening, can provide a whole new level of sensory stimulation as well as additional benefits for your loved one.
Additionally, feeling the sun on your skin is not just good for sensory stimulation; it’s essential to helping your body absorb vitamin D, a hormone necessary to maintain healthy bones, teeth, and optimal immune function. Spending time outdoors can enable your parent or family member to feel the sun on their face while also ensuring that they are getting their daily dose of vitamin D.
Another common symptom of dementia is having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This is caused by the inner circadian rhythm getting out of balance due to limited exposure to natural light during the day or too much artificial light in the evening. The inner circadian rhythm is our biological, internal clock that tells us when it is time to sleep and when to be awake.
Another one of the benefits of being outside is that it can increase a person’s exposure to natural light during the day, resetting their internal clock. This can allow them to have more energy during the day and sleep better at night.
Enjoying the outdoors and spending time in nature should focus on joy and safety. Going for a stroll with your loved one, sitting on a bench and watching the birds, or tending to a garden can provide so many positive benefits for you and someone you love.
At Uplands Village, we understand that memory loss has its challenges, and your loved one’s comfort and emotional well-being are our priority. We help our residents experience joy through a holistic approach that cares for them comprehensively.
Our memory care neighborhood minimizes stress, promotes calm, and is staffed with the region’s most highly trained professionals who understand that no two days are alike. In addition, our innovative programming help residents living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia experience joy, relive treasured memories, communicate in new ways, and reconnect with others.
To learn more about our Life Plan Community and memory care services, visit our website or contact Uplands Village today.