Bird watching, or birding, is an activity that involves observing birds in their natural habitat and identifying different species.
It is estimated that 7.7 million avid bird watchers are older adults, indicating that bird watching is a pastime that many seniors enjoy. While birding is foreign for most people, it is claimed to have several health benefits in terms of physical and mental health. The sound and sight of birds can keep people young at heart and maintain their overall wellness.
How healthy can bird watching be for seniors? Let’s look into the top 8 benefits of bird watching for seniors.
Bird Watching Helps Seniors Stay In Shape, Bust Stress, and Build Profound Relationships, Experts Say
How Does Bird Watching Benefit Seniors?
Bird Watching for Seniors: Stay Fit
More and more seniors become too caught up in a sedentary lifestyle. While nothing’s wrong with sitting back and relaxing every now and then, especially after years of labor, such a lifestyle can lead to numerous health problems in the long run. No matter what age, everyone is encouraged to exercise. Engaging in physical activity is the best health booster for seniors. It helps them stay fit, increase vitality, and avoid serious health complications coming with older ages. In addition to low-impact and senior-friendly exercises, birding is an excellent form of exercise seniors should try. It involves walking and a little hiking (unless you want to go higher for a wider view).
Bird Watching for Seniors: Good Excuse To Venture Out
Bird watching is an outdoor activity, and stepping outside is good for seniors. Instead of sitting all day long watching TV or sticking their eyes to their phones, bird watching is a good excuse to venture out and be in nature. Of course, we can’t deny the exceptional benefits that nature has to offer for overall health and wellness. When outside, seniors can soak up the sunshine and breathe more fresh air — something they can’t have when staying put inside. Generous amounts of oxygen, vitamin D, and movement are all critical to seniors, contributing to a healthy aging journey ahead of them.
Bird Watching for Seniors: Stronger Connection With Nature
Humans and nature share a close-knit relationship. Nature confers a wealth of healthful benefits for people of all ages. For example, connecting with nature allows young children to increase their sensory experience and social awareness, resulting in better school performance. When seniors avoid connection with nature, they can miss out on a lot of things. Spending more time outdoors via bird-watching activities supports seniors in sustaining good health and building mindfulness. It is also good for reducing agitation and renewing cognitive functions.
Bird Watching for Seniors: Keep The Minds Active
In addition to frailer limbs and tender joints, seniors are at risk of mental fatigue due to diminished cognitive functions. With increasing age, it is understandable that seniors no longer maintain their mental sharpness and critical thinking as they once did. Bird-watching sessions are mental workouts for older adults, and it is also fun! Much like solving a puzzle, seniors set out on a mission to identify the species based on colors and patterns and distinguish between females and males upon spotting a bird. They also memorize appearances, names, bird calls, colors, and patterns of their feathers. All of these activities are crucial to keep the minds vigorous. The ambient sounds of nature can bring immeasurable value to seniors. Chirping birds, flowing streams, and crunching leaves are proven effective in evoking memories in seniors, refining their sensory senses, and promoting calmness.
Bird Watching for Seniors: More Joy, Less Stress
Stress relief is another benefit of bird watching. As mentioned earlier, bird watching is great for seniors to escape from mundane routines. Several studies found that the stunning sights of the outdoors can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, allowing people in distress to relieve anxiety. Also, listening to diverse bird songs can minimize the effects of depressive symptoms and anxious feelings in seniors. By partaking in bird-watching activities, seniors can detach their minds from toxic thoughts and improve their neurological functions.
Bird Watching for Seniors: Encourage Mindfulness
In our fast-paced lifestyle, people forget to live in the moment and overlook little things. While meditation is good for attaining mindfulness, watching birds is another easy way to focus on what is happening in the present moment. According to a study published on BioScience, people seeing more birds have improved mental health. Observing wildlife allows seniors to move at a slower pace, making it easier to land on the mindfulness stage. When seniors become more mindful, they can alter their concentration and have a clearer perspective. They also experience better appetite, increased satisfaction, elevated moods, and lower blood pressure.
Bird Watching for Seniors: Renew A Sense of Place
As life has come back to normal, there’s no better time for seniors to step out of their shells. Living in the same neighborhood and seeing the same faces over and over again can lead to boredom in seniors. Of course, there are numerous enjoyable activities to fend off such feelings, but they can become monotonous over time. With bird watching, seniors can break away from repetitive home chores and renew their sense of place. Now that seniors are out in nature, they can listen and observe some of the most jaw-dropping places on Earth, such as flocks of birds taking off into the iridescent glow of sunset — something that we don’t get to see very often when living in urban areas.
Bird Watching for Seniors: Build Relationships
Although bird watching is a solo activity, having companionship along the way is a great way to strengthen familial bonds and make new friendships. When seniors share their passion, they can connect with their loved ones on a deeper level and feel validated and appreciated when their family members understand what they do. Bird watching is not all about spotting the birds with binoculars. Seniors can add more fun and excitement to the mix by creating a competition to see who can identify the most birds in a short time.
Preparing for Bird Watching: Must-Have Supplies and Gear
Although seniors don’t have to purchase every bird-watching gadget possible to get started, the experience can become much more enjoyable with the assistance of useful supplies. Preparing for bird watching can be as simple as tossing binoculars into the bag, putting on hiking boots, and using a camera to take nice pictures. Find below for the bird-watching equipment checklist:
- Field guide and books
- Field journal
- Binocular and harness
- Spotting scope
- Insect repellent
- Hiking boots
- A hat
- Breathable clothes
Experience The Fun of Bird Watching At 12 Oaks Communities
One of the best things about bird watching is that it can be done anywhere. Although watching the birds in nature is much more fulfilling than seeing them in parks or suburban areas, it doesn’t mean your seniors can’t indulge in such an activity right where they live. Spending time outdoors watching the birds can be an incredibly rewarding experience for seniors, even if they reside in assisted living.
At 12 Oaks Communities, we understand that every resident’s hobbies and passions are different. In addition to a wide range of indoor activities, we also put our efforts into broadening our residents’ horizons by designing outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy, with bird watching being one of them.
Whether your seniors are keen on identifying new species or simply want to admire their beauty from afar, we strive to give our residents the best experience possible, regardless of their physical capacity, with a wide range of planning services and assistance on the spot.
If you have questions about the benefits of bird watching for seniors or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks Senior Living Communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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