Getting outside, feeling the sunlight on your skin, and breathing in fresh air are immediate mood-boosters. There are many ways for home health care workers to help their sick clients get out safely and enjoy the great outdoors during the summer months. Research has shown that a change in scenery will improve mental health; additionally, sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D, and can play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. Need help coming up with some ideas? We’ve got you covered with a list of five outdoor activities you can do with your clients this season. As always, make sure to employ safety measures before heading out, like ensuring your clients have hydrated sufficiently and have applied SPF.
Keep Cool in the Pool
Does your client have access to a public or private pool? Swimming and water aerobics can help them beat the heat, while also getting in some cardiovascular activity. Water-based summer activities are generally low-impact, with little risk of injury, and are great for individuals with arthritis or stiff joints. Some benefits of swimming include: improved heart health, reduced risk of osteoporosis, and an increase in flexibility, muscle strength, and tone. Have some props ready in case your client needs some flotation assistance, like a kickboard.
Take advantage of cooler times of day by getting out early to do some bird watching. You can go for a short walk or find a shady spot to listen to bird calls and try to identify species. Bird watching stimulates memory, cognitive alertness, and awareness of details. It can also be a great stress reliever and alleviate anxiety for clients that are experiencing cognitive challenges.
Catch a Sunset
As things cool down, look for a scenic spot to watch the sunset. Perhaps even plan a picnic and bring some chairs or a blanket, and some snacks. It’s been thought that being in the presence of beauty helps people to appreciate life and watching the sunset will also help to slow down your perception of time, which creates a feeling of peace. Research your local sunset time and set up a spot to watch about 45 minutes to an hour in advance.
Creating a bonfire in the evening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while warding off insects and avoiding the hottest parts of the day. Believe it or not, research has shown that campfires can actually lower blood pressure! The longer you spend in front of an open fire, the greater the relaxing effect.
Find an area to start a small garden outside of your client’s home. Gardening requires regular and continuous care, which in turn provides opportunities for increased physical activity and a sense of purpose and routine. It also gives them something to discuss; ask them about their garden and strategize plants or flowers that grow well together. This activity helps to maintain strength and flexibility and has been shown to be a very therapeutic hobby.