We can advocate that getting outdoors is the best thing for physical and mental health, but unless the individuals want to get outside, we are wasting our time. Instead of constantly banging on about the benefits of getting out doors, it is time to look at ways of encouraging the elderly to start going out.
For many there are a number of mental and physical hurdles that prevent them from getting outside. For some the act of getting doors for even a short excursion can take a great deal of energy. The simple act of going outdoors can be a physically and mentally daunting one.
If you know someone who is reluctant to get outside, then the trick is to start small and don’t over encourage. Let them progress at their own pace. This is a few ways for the elderly to enjoy time outdoors without having to overexert themselves.
- Encourage them to sit by an open window for just a few minutes so that they can feel the fresh air on their face. Maybe they would enjoy this with a cup of coffee or tea. Hopefully the sensation of the fresh air will inspire them to actually move outdoors.
- Set up a bird table or feeder in sight of the window or back door. Encourage them to help restocking the feeders. Suggest them may wish to take their bird feeding to the local park.
- Maybe they have access to a patio or an enclosed back garden. This would be an ideal place to start especially if they are not being overlooked by neighbours and strangers.
- Plant the garden with species that attract butterflies and birds. Consider creating a garden using raised flower beds so they can access the plants without having to bend or get down. Encourage an interest in different plants and suggest visits to the local garden centre or nursery.
- Encourage them to take their hobbies and pastimes outside. What could be better that doing knitting, needlework or a crossword in a warm shady corner of the garden. If they love painting, suggest plant still life’s or wildlife as potential subjects.
- If they have a love for theatre or music, then look out for the many outdoor shows and performances. It does not have to be a big festival; it could be as small as the brass band on the village green.
- Encourage them to spend a little time outside with their grandchildren. maybe organise a barbeque or a picnic in the garden, local park or on the coast.
Whatever you come up with remember, it is more important to get the older members of our society outdoor than to talk about it.