Posted by Mary Demakes
on May 5, 2020
May 4th is National Bird Day. We will tell you why Bird Watching is an ideal hobby for seniors!
Bird watching is a fun activity for any age, and for seniors bird watching is a great hobby. Here are some reasons why:
Any mobility level
Bird watching can be enjoyed from any mobility level. For older adults on bed rest, caregivers can create a comfortable indoor environment for bird watching. Rearrange the room with a reclining chair or bed near a window, add a bird feeder clearly visible from it, and watch the birds flock to your loved one’s view. If they have a balcony, you can also create a small garden with plants to attract native birds. Wheelchair-bound older adults, meanwhile, can enjoy bird watching together with their caretaker by going on wheelchair accessible strolls in their neighborhood. For those who are fully mobile, bird watching can offer light to moderate aerobic exercise and cater to different levels of fitness—from slow walks in a flat park to invigorating hikes further away.
Bird watching is accessible.
For those who may have cognitive impairments or other limitations, bird watching is a great activity that is straightforward and enjoyable. Suggested equipment is a pair of light binoculars and a bird book, but you can still enjoy bird watching from a window or yard even without those things. For those who may be visually impaired, using binoculars can help, or simply listening to the birdsong. For someone who is hearing impaired, they can rely on their eyesight for bird watching.
Seniors that require care from home care aides or family caregivers are already dependent for so many things. Many are homebound and cannot go anywhere without assistance. Bird watching is something that an elderly adult can enjoy without the need to leave their street or even backyard. As people age, sometimes they have to give up hobbies that they once loved because they are not feasible for them anymore. What is lovely about bird watching is that it can be enjoyed for many years as a person’s condition may change.
It helps reduce stress and anxiety
Spending time in nature is inherently calming. The patience that bird watching requires only serves to enhance this meditative effect. As birders learn to appreciate nature’s slower pace, it inspires reflection, relaxation, and perspective. The exercise benefits that come from walking outdoors also contribute to increased happiness and energy levels. It’s quiet nature can be less stressful for introverts than other activities, while extroverts can also enjoy bird watching in large groups. Birding can help your loved one connect with themselves, others, and nature as a whole.
Bird watching provides an opportunity to learn about the eating and mating habits of local birds and memorize their appearances, names, and calls. It stimulates cognitive alertness, memory, and awareness of details. Studies have shown that engaging regularly in an activity that requires memory recall can help prevent the onset of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. The act of listening and looking for birds activates the area of the brain responsible for sight and hearing. All of this mental activity keeps the brain actively engaged and working.
Finding the motivation to get active is usually hard for many seniors. Bird watching, however, gives you plenty of opportunities to go outside. From filling up bird feeders in the yard to taking a walk through the park, bird watching is an activity that motivates less-mobile elderly adults to get up and get moving. Even elderly adults that are confined to a wheelchair can participate if a family member or senior care aide comes along. Lots of seniors don’t even realize they are exercising when they are involved with bird watching.