As a home care provider, you work hard to keep the patient healthy and safe. Oftentimes, this means limiting the time you spend outside aside from medical appointments or the occasional outing. But that doesn’t have to be the case—it shouldn’t be the case, in fact, as spending time outdoors has myriad benefits on human health.
Sunlight offers the vitamin D boost we all need, helping to enhance brain function as well as bone and muscle health. Immersing oneself in nature has also been shown to improve emotional stability.
No matter the patient’s age, diagnosis, or level of independence, it’s important that caregivers encourage their clients to keep active and go outside. Admittedly, though, if a doctor recommends bed rest—or if there’s any pertinent reason to avoid going outside, like poor air quality—then you ought to follow their recommendation.
That said, if there’s no reason to steer clear of the outdoors, then it’s time to slip on your shoes, help the patient get ready, and explore. Here are five ways caregivers and patients can recharge in nature:
1. Go on a walk.
A walk through the neighborhood—or perhaps on a local trail, depending on the patient’s fitness and mobility—makes for great exercise. It’s also an opportunity to socialize, reflect on recent experiences, and explore the area. The scenery doesn’t hurt either.
2. Practice yoga or meditate.
While this activity doesn’t require an outdoor setting, it can certainly be made more enjoyable on the grass or in a park. Just like going on a walk, caregivers will have to modify the yoga or meditation session based on the patient’s ability and overall comfort. At the very least, you can sit outside together and enjoy the fresh air.
3. Plant a garden.
With the patient and their family’s express permission, you can plant herbs, flowers, and vegetables in a container garden directly on the property. If they live in an apartment, or if their yard has limited space, you can look into purchasing a small plot in a community garden—a social option for those who don’t mind sharing the space.
4. Prepare a picnic.
Picnics are an open-air adventure for all personalities. Consider prepping the patient’s favorite foods, spreading a cozy blanket on the lawn or in a public park, and then sitting back and indulging in a delicious meal. Be sure to bring hats, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
5. Take arts & crafts outside.
Does the patient like to paint, draw, knit, or take photographs? These activities can all be performed in the outdoors, weather permitting. So, if this sounds like something that would appeal to the person in your care, go right out on the patio, set up a table in the yard, or get comfortable at your neighborhood park.
According to Richard Ryan, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester in Minnesota, “One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings.”
What better reason than this to go outside each day? At this time of year in particular, both home care patients and their providers would do well to spend more time in nature.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and resources from Nurse2Help. The Nurse2Help app lists hundreds of prescreened caregivers in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Please contact us for more information.