It’s spring in Alberta, and there’s no better time to get seniors out enjoying everything the season has to offer. With pandemic restrictions largely lifted, there are plenty of safe ways to help loved ones re-engage with the community, and begin cautiously tapping into the wealth of opportunities that warmer temperatures and clearer sidewalks provide.
Late-season snowfalls aside, at Home Care Assistance Calgary, we’re celebrating six key ways seniors can spring into spring—and the veritable health and wellness they entail:
- Fresh air and happiness go hand in hand. Walking brings all kinds of health benefits. Chief among them? A chance to get outside and inhale the fresh air, which fuels happiness and supports wellbeing. Studies show that walking through nature can actually reduce rumination and other brain activity linked to risk of mental illness. As we age, walking has also been shown to help seniors maintain physical and cognitive independence. Accompanying a senior on something as simple as a walk around the block can open them up to those benefits now. Be sure to pick a pace and distance that best suit your physical abilities.
- Furry friends bring a fulsome smile. Whether petting a kitten at home or observing birds at a feeder, there’s no question that animals can spark delight for humans of any age. While the jury’s still out on the specific correlation between animals and healthy human aging, any caregiver who has seen a senior enjoy animal companionship will tell you: a link exists. Luckily for Albertans, there are all kinds of ways to get closer to animals this spring, including a well-planned walk through the Calgary Zoo. Less mobile seniors may want to get in on the action from home, with an online dose of the zoo’s animals coming to life this spring. Keep in mind: something as simple as a comfortable porch chair, a little company, and some encouragement to spot and name local birds or watch the squirrels running a muck can be a great way for any senior to easily engage with wildlife at any time.
- Bountiful gardens boost anyone’s well-being. There’s a reason so many people fell into plant love over the course of the pandemic: gardens make us feel better. That’s true for rich, cultivated gardens and pretty, outdoor environments. Spending a little time amidst the daffodils or tulips could help a senior improve mood, cut down stress, and just generally embrace a happier vibe. Consider how best to help a loved one tap into that potential by checking out some of Calgary’s top gardens as they begin to shed their winter coats. Even easier, bring mom or dad out to the garden centre for a stroll through the nursery as shelves are stocked, and annuals are displayed. Caregivers may just walk away with a little more spring in their step, too.
- Outdoor gatherings create connections. Loneliness was a real challenge for seniors long before the pandemic began. A decade ago, keeping older people socially connected and active was deemed the top emerging issue facing Canadian seniors. Fast forward to now, and pandemic-fuelled isolation has made that an even greater challenge. The good news is, as spring heralds better weather across the West, even COVID-wary seniors not yet comfortable socializing indoors will have meaningful opportunities to connect outside. From a game of cards on the deck to a cup of coffee on the driveway, the change of seasons brings limitless new ways for seniors to feel connected. So go ahead, make that suggestion. Extend an invitation. Seize the (relatively) snow-free moment and find ways to help isolated seniors come back together with friends and family.
What’s the key takeaway?
It’s been another long winter for Alberta’s seniors. The months ahead offer up myriad ways for seniors to embrace the fresh air, rediscover their smiles, smell the roses and spread the love. Thinking through the most appropriate ways to help the senior in your life make the most of spring can be a positive step towards holistic health and brighter days ahead.