Everyday Ways to Support Successful Aging: Getting Back to Nature

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 

blog-family-decision-guide

 

We’ve all heard the idiom, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” But the idea behind it seems to be lost on many Americans. We are notorious for being busy, almost as if the length of our to-do list determines our worth. Even in retirement, there’s a pressure to always be ‘doing’ something. But to what end? Does busyness bring health and happiness? Residents in Blue Zones®, five regions in the world where people seem to live the longest, do take time in nature and it’s clearly working. Check out the benefits of nature as you age and how you can follow the Blue Zones’ approach in your daily life.

For more information on how we incorporate the Blue Zones’ approach into senior living, check out our Successful Secrets to Aging Guide!

senior living guide to aging well

About the Blue Zones

The regions of Sardinia, Italy; the Greek island of Ikaria; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Okinawa, Japan have been identified as Blue Zones. Research has found that residents in these regions share lifestyle traits that help them live longer lives:

  • Move Naturally – Keep moving in daily life and avoid being sedentary
  • Purpose – Have a reason to get up and out of bed every day
  • Down-Shift – Find a daily routine that helps you reduce stress
  • Hara Hachi Bu – Known as the 80% rule to stop eating before you feel full
  • Plant Slant – Eat a primarily plant-based diet
  • Wine @ 5 – Drink alcohol in moderation regularly
  • Belong – Participate in a faith-based community of some kind
  • Loved Ones First – Put family first in all decision making
  • Right Tribe – Find a circle of friends that share your commitment to a healthy lifestyle

They call these traits the Power 9® and believe any of us can apply them to do the same. What’s interesting is that while nature is not specifically listed within the Power 9, it serves as the backbone for most of the traits. From the plant-based diet grown in their own garden, to doing their own yard work, to walking instead of driving, to visiting friends, to running errands, and to making a point to spend time outdoors and in the sunshine, nature is ingrained in daily life.

How Nature Benefits Successful Aging

So why is it important, particularly as you age, to spend time in nature? Over 100 research studies have proven the benefits of nature according to the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, and they include:

  • Motivation to be more active
  • Increased energy
  • Opportunity for more social interaction
  • Reduced risk of depression
  • Improved attention span and memory performance
  • Boosted immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower stress levels

Incorporating Nature into Everyday Life

Following the Blue Zones’ approach, this is easier than you may think because they simply incorporate it into what they are already doing and take the time to enjoy it. For example:

  • Dine outside or by a window
  • Set up bird feeders or plant flowers that attract butterflies 
  • Try your hand at planting a small vegetable garden
  • Take a daily stroll through your neighborhood or at least to the mailbox each day
  • Get creative and learn to paint nature scenes or simply arts and crafts on the patio 
  • Find an outdoor concert or theatre performance
  • Set up your exercise mat on the porch instead of inside
  • Host family barbeques or have the grandchildren over to play outside
  • Pick a favorite spot in the yard and start meditating each day
  • Instead of just letting your pet out to play, toss the ball around or play fetch with them

What if outdoor space isn’t easily accessible to you? Or, perhaps mobility issues make it hard to enjoy the outdoors. You may be surprised to learn that senior living communities also incorporate nature into everyday life. From lush green campuses, numerous outdoor spaces such as patios and courtyards, and even walking paths that are designed to be easy to navigate to gardening clubs, walking groups and locations near parks and outdoor recreation, you may have even more opportunity to enjoy the benefits of nature than you would at home.

During the COVID-19 pandemic you can still enjoy the benefits of nature. Observe physical distancing and safety protocols as you would indoors.

For more information, contact a community near you to arrange a virtual tour!

Vitality Living half Blossom
Skip to content