Nature is known to promote physical, mental and spiritual healing, with green and blue spaces promoting feelings of renewal, restoration and spiritual connect. Reinforcing this beneficial influence of nature on humans, a new study highlights the importance of everyday contact with nature for well being in later life.
Lead author Jessica Finlay, a former research assistant on the project from the University of Minnesota, said, "We zoomed into everyday life for seniors between the ages of 65 and 86. We discovered how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers, can have a tremendous impact on overall health."
The study showed that by incorporating smaller features, like a koi pond or a bench with a view of flowers, public health and urban development strategies can optimize nature as a health resource for older adults. A lot of people overcome barriers like chronic illness, disability and progressing old age by connecting with green and blue spaces. While the younger generations may use green and blue spaces more to unwind, the study participants used nature to be active physically, spiritually and socially in later life.
Natural environments enable elderly people to uphold daily structure in retirement and provide opportunities for diverse activities outside the home. This is important to improve quality of later life by decreasing boredom, isolation and loneliness, as well as boosting one's sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Finlay further added, "Accessibility to everyday green and blue spaces encourages seniors to simply get out the door. This in turn motivates them to be active physically, spiritually and socially, which can offset chronic illness, disability and isolation. This research is more than anecdotal; it gives credence to some small but significant elements of everyday later life. Hopefully it will help urban planners and developers build communities that span a lifetime."
The study is published in Health and Place