Spring has arrived. Along with green leaves and colourful blooms is the desire to spend more time outside. Montreal’s winter was harsh and many of us spent too much time indoors.
Many people fear their last years of life will be spent in a nursing home, in a room confined to just one floor. It is not an unreasonable fear and I am concerned when I find residents of a care facility with limited or no access to the outdoors.
Residences should have ample outdoor areas with awnings for protection from the sun. It should be accesible, with comfortable seating. Some residences provide garden boxes that are also accesible.
While a residence may have a lovely outdoor area, it is important to know if it is for all residents and not solely for the more autonomous folks. Check the activity schedule to assess whether outdoor time is scheduled for those residents on a care floor and not just as an occasional special event.
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A residence without sufficient staffing for outdoor activities could be a problem for residents who need supervision, since it is unlikely that everyone will agree to go outdoors at the same time. If only a couple of individuals want to enjoy the outdoors, there may not be a staff person available.
Specially maintained therapeutic gardens can be part of an excellent program for people with Alzheimer’s. Gardening provides exercise and being in close contact with nature connects us to the world and a healthy dose of sunshine will provide for the natural absorption of Vitamin D.
We all need fresh air, a change of scenery, and to be in touch with nature. This should not be considered a special activity in a care facility but rather a necessity.
Breathe deeply, enjoy the fresh air and the beauty surrounding us all. Take the time to smell the roses and share this experience with your loved ones.