This just in: it’s officially spring in Vancouver—the perfect time to get seniors outside, and enjoying the best of the season. If the mild temps and plentiful daffodils aren’t enough to lure folks into the outdoors, the science should: pleasant weather has been shown to improve mood, boost memory and reframe mindset. And those upsides are especially noticeable at the time of year when winter finally shifts to spring.
Here in B.C., we’ve celebrated seniors every spring for years. But getting seniors out, about and making the most of the season has become even more important since the pandemic began. We know that seniors nationwide felt the loneliness of isolation even more poignantly than other demographic groups. All the more reason for seniors, and their caregivers, to get out safely now, and spark some joy together this spring.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate some seasonal fun into a senior’s life this spring, our team at Home Care Assistance Vancouver suggests keeping these tips in mind:
- Go walk— and talk—about. Even 10 minutes of physical activity, three times a day, can make a positive impact for most seniors in the Vancouver area. Layer in a meaningful chat, and you can unleash the additional benefits of friendship at the very same time (think better mood, greater happiness, and less stress). Suss out what activity level makes the most sense for the senior in your life. Gentle jaunt around the block. Longer turn through the park. Both can bring meaning to a sunny, spring day. More adventurous seniors may want to take things a step further, and explore free outdoor recreation equipment available at 18 different Seniors’ Community Parks across the province.
- Sing out loud. Music can deliver a direct boost to our brain’s pleasure centre. That’s true at any age. In fact, research shows that music can even help older adults control symptoms of depression, and slow down progressive dips in cognitive function. Importantly, you don’t have to do anything fancy to take advantage of those benefits. Bring the radio outside and enjoy the fresh air with a little musical accoutrement. Or, if someone’s always been particularly passionate about music, find an accessible venue where they can experience a live performance. With COVID-19 mandates now lifted, we’re expecting more opportunities for folks to tap into Vancouver’s free music scene this year. For something more measured, check out the offerings available in May and June at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
- Get touristy, close to home. Travel improves mental health, bolsters resilience, and gives people something to look forward to. As the rain recedes and the city emerges from a long winter’s nap, seniors seeking a little escape don’t have to travel far. Exploring your own city can be just as good. Enable a loved one to get out there and see what all the tourists are raving about. Seniors may want to meander through the exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology, sip a coffee along Vancouver’s seawall, or rediscover the flavours of an open air lunch or dinner on the town. Any of these activities can be adapted to a seniors’ mobility level, and enjoyed over the course of a single morning or afternoon.
- Dig up some dirt. Gardens are good for us. It’s that simple. Again and again, studies reveal that when we spend time in outdoor settings or cultivated gardens, we feel better overall. Lucky for us, formal gardens in Vancouver—and B.C. more broadly (like Butchart Gardens)—are just coming into bloom. That said, any senior can easily add a little more green into their typical day. Balconies are amazing places to find purpose through flower box gardens. Backyards and patios offer space to get a little dirt under our fingernails, help with a flower garden, or simply keep the gardener company. All of these are equal opportunities to connect with family (especially grandchildren) at the very same time.
- Try something new. Older adults who maintain an active lifestyle can actually foster longevity. Equally important: they live happier lives. Better weather, warmer temperatures, easier access, and better driving all make it easy for seniors in Vancouver to reconnect with the activities they loved before the pandemic. These are also chances to delve into something different. Maybe that’s a new card game, in the warm breeze on the front porch. Perhaps it comes in the shape of a visit to a local marina, to get a glimpse of the boats coming and going. Whatever you try with a senior this spring, be sure to incorporate something new. You may just unlock another path they’d never considered before.
If you remember just one thing…
Holistic, comprehensive and balanced care offers seniors an integrated way of enjoying life at every age and stage. Embrace this change of seasons to bring a little more happy to a senior’s day-to-day routine.