Connecting Older Adults with Nature


Nature is important for people across the lifespan. Older adults or seniors can benefit from nature as much as children or young adults. However there are also some unique considerations for older adults as it relates to connecting with nature.

Read my post to find out more about two innovative programs working to connect more seniors to nature and the outdoors.

I have to confess my bias here. I enjoy interacting with older adults and when I’m not out in nature, or blogging about it, I work as a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Calgary.

Most older adults have a strong connection to nature and many of them had careers and lives that involved nature and the outdoors. This interest often does not change as people age.

Finding ways to connect seniors is important now but this group is also the fastest growing population in Canada and most other developing countries.

Health problems can make it particularly challenging for older adults to connect with nature. This has been magnified recently for people living in nursing homes where its challenging to get outdoors at the best of times and impossible in most facilities due to COVID restrictions.

Here are a few programs I found that try to connect more older adults to nature.

Nature Programs for Older Adults

The Silver Saplings program is a program in Scotland to connect seniors with nature. The program provides nature education for older adults during local day trips. The program includes intergenerational activities with youth and instructors.

Silver Saplings developed from an existing Wild Things program for younger people to meet the specific needs of seniors. You can learn more about the program and hear from participants from this great short Youtube video.

Paths for All in the United Kingdom has developed walking programs for people affected by dementia. The Dementia Friendly Walking program has accessible walking programs for people with dementia. It involves people with dementia in developing the walks and provides training to walk leaders.

The walk program now includes over 31 locations, hosts over 140 walks each week and has trained over 500 walk leaders. One participant shared his experience with the walking program provides some of the benefits he found since joining the walks.

Paths for All also created a Care About Walking program to encourage walking in nursing homes or care facilities.

These are just a few innovative ways to connect older adults with nature. I’ll be putting together a few posts about nature in nursing homes and the effects of nature on dementia and cognition.

Leave a comment or email me at if you’d like to share related your thoughts related to this post.

I’ll be sharing a new post next week on Nature Brain on indoor nature activities.

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