Natural Wonder: Time Spent Outside is Key to a More Fulfilled Life

June 17, 2021


By Terrie M. Roberts

“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being outdoors is critical for people of all ages, but even more so for senior adults because it has the potential to improve their health and well-being.

The Oaks of Louisiana, through design, programs offered, and lifestyle, promotes overall wellness, keeping residents as independent as possible for as long as possible, helping them age well.

As important as the environment inside is to safeguarding residents’ health and helping them live a more fulfilled life, so too is their environment outdoors.

“Being outdoors experiencing nature restores your body and soul; it boosts your physical and mental well-being,” says Margaret Elrod, Oaks executive director. “With our lakes, walking trails and gardens we wanted to create places that not only are beautiful but help promote physical, mental and emotional health.”

Studies show senior adults who spend time outdoors have more positive feelings and better mental health, along with lower levels of depression and stress. The relaxation that nature provides can improve mood and increase overall feelings of happiness.

Senior adults get a greater sense of energy and vitality from being outdoors, and memory and attention span are improved with more time spent outside.

Moreover, being outside can help increase levels of vitamin D, which is often low among seniors. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to pain in muscles and bones, inflammation, risk of Type 1 diabetes and several types of cancer.

The Oaks of Louisiana campus on East Flournoy Lucas Road features acres of well-maintained tree-covered lawns and gardens, assorted walking trails, benches and two lakes. The sound of flowing water features, the sight of birds eating at a feeder or Canada geese scattered on the lawn in front of the Chapel all add to the pastoral setting.

In the summer, begonias, vincas, salvia, marigolds, zinnias, caladiums, verbena, Angelonia and lantana are mixed with knockout roses and azaleas, among others. More than 15,000 individual plants are planted by campus and grounds staff for summer color.

Each season has its own blueprint of what is to be planted, what needs to be done to keep the grounds looking pristine and how best to meet challenges Mother Nature can provide.

Afterall, integrating the idea of overall wellness into The Oaks of Louisiana landscape helps residents age healthy and age well.