If the frigid winter temperatures kept your older family member cooped up inside, it’s time to get out in the fresh air again.
Spending time outside has a lot of benefits for seniors, so if they can get outside, they should. Although getting out of the house can be difficult for older adults with disabilities, there are many reasons family caregivers should try to take them outside whenever possible. Here are just 5 reasons seniors need to go outside.
#1: Soak in Some Vitamin D
40 percent of people in the United States don’t get enough vitamin D. However, exposure to sunlight can increase vitamin D levels. That’s because the skin can manufacture vitamin D using cholesterol in the cells. Having enough vitamin D in the body may help to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, and depression.
#2: Nature Improves Mental Health
If your aging relative suffers from depression or just seems a little down, being outdoors can help improve their mood. Spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress, better self-esteem, and less anger.
#3: Increased Physical Activity
For lots of people, being outside can increase physical activity. It’s natural to want to walk around and enjoy green spaces, see the flowers, and watch wildlife. Just like younger people, seniors often enjoy a walk in the park or a stroll around the block when the weather is nice. They may also be interested in growing their own flowers or vegetables, which can also be great exercise. Being more physically active has all kinds of health benefits, including a healthier heart.
#4: More Opportunity to Socialize
Getting out of the house offers seniors a chance to see and talk to other people. Spending too much time alone puts older adults at risk for social isolation. Being socially isolated puts them at risk for more illness. In fact, one study showed that Medicare costs were an average of $1,600 more per year for people who suffered from social isolation. It even increases the risk of dying.
#5: Improve Joint Health
People who suffer from arthritis pain can improve their joint health by walking. Exercise can help to protect and rebuild joints that have been worn down by osteoarthritis. Walking also builds up leg muscles so that they can better support joints. It can also help them to lose weight, which reduces the stress placed on joints.
Elder care can help your aging relative to get outside more. An elder care provider can walk with them to ensure they don’t trip on uneven surfaces. If your loved one is in a wheelchair, an elder care provider can take them outside to sit in the sun for a bit or push them around the block so they can see other people and enjoy the sights.