For seniors who are confined to their homes, wheelchairs or beds, birdwatching can be a very therapeutic pastime, according to the Institute on Aging. They cite numerous ways that birding can benefit seniors, including the past time’s adaptability, and its positive impact on stress, anxiety and cognition.
Birdwatching is Adaptable to Numerous Circumstances
Whether walking along a nature trail, spending time in a relaxing garden, or simply lying in bed watching birds bustle around a feeder out the window, birdwatching can be undertaken in all sorts of situations.
Birdwatching Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Widespread research has repeatedly demonstrated that spending time in nature, or viewing natural scenes, contributes to lower stress and anxiety levels. Blood pressure, pulse and the stress hormone cortisol are consistently lowered, and people report feeling calmer. Being able to watch natural stimulation, such as birds and tree branches swaying in the breeze, has especially powerful healing effects.
Birdwatching Improves Cognition
Not only are natural scenes calming and healing, studies show that they improve mental functioning. Research participants are better able to complete demanding mental puzzles and enjoy restored attention. Attention restoration therapy, or ART, is based on research that shows urban or manmade environments tend to drain and exhaust attention stores, while plants, forests, bodies of water or birds replenish them. There seems to be something about the way that they are constantly moving and changing, gently stimulating the mind without overwhelming it, that is not only extremely restorative, but also unique to nature.
Elder Care can Help Support Bird Watching Seniors
Whether birdwatching at the park, feeding the ducks or pigeons at the downtown plaza fountain, or resting on the backyard patio or garden, elder care aides can assist a senior to engage in the world around them regardless of their mobility or activity level.
Elder care aides can walk along with a senior, keeping them safe at the same time as keeping them company. Elder care aides can drive a senior to a local easy-access pond, city center or aviary. They can help seniors in and out of the vehicle and assist with walkers or wheelchairs as needed. Elder care aides can assist a homebound senior out to the garden to experience the fresh air and listen to the sweet birdsong.
Elder care aides can also help seniors maintain bird feeders, again meeting the senior exactly where they are at and providing only as much or little assistance as needed. They can take the senior shopping for a bird feeder and bird seed, help them set it up outside of the window, and help them to fill it on a regular basis. For some seniors, this could look more like companionship, reminders and transportation assistance, while for others the elder care aide would act on the senior’s behalf.
Many seniors already have elder care services for things like housework, personal care, companionship and mobility assistance. Because elder care services are designed to be customized, it’s easy to add little extras like “fill bird feeder”, or “take a stroll through the garden” to the list. Doing so can really benefit a senior’s health and brighten their day.