A Bird in the Hand: Benefits of Bird Watching for Seniors

A senior couple sits outside with binoculars watching birds.

Finding activities to do outdoors is key to keeping our senior loved ones happy and healthy as spring and summer approach. In fact, one activity in particular is especially fun to engage in as winter turns into spring. We are talking about bird watching.

No matter where you live, there is always a chance of finding some species of bird in your yard, neighborhood, or local parks and walking trails. Finding the time to research what birds to look out for and then taking time to find them results in a variety of positive benefits to seniors, both physically and mentally.

Here are a few key benefits to keep in mind as you start to plan fun activities for the nice weather upon us.

Physical Benefits

Gets You Outdoors

The most common way to participate in bird watching involves going outside and walking around or sitting down somewhere to find birds. This physical activity gets your loved one outside and reaping the benefits of being in the sunshine amongst nature.

There is something naturally calming about the natural world. By going to parks and walking trails to find birds, seniors are taking advantage of this calming effect. It encourages them to maybe stay outside longer than they would doing other activities.

Sometimes, a bit of fresh air and some Vitamin D from the sun is all a person needs to shift their whole mood and outlook on life. It also helps your body to stay in peak shape and gives you the energy necessary to be physically active.

Keeps You Fit

As stated above, being outside to participate in bird watching will naturally lead to seniors being more physically active. When out looking for birds, they are likely to walk around quite a bit.

It’s been proven that even a short walk will jumpstart a positive health journey for people of all ages. Consistent short walks, such as you would get when looking for local birds, help maintain a healthy weight, positive heart health, good blood pressure, and improve your posture.

The benefits of being fit and active don’t just stop with what can be physically seen or observed. There are also a multitude of mental and emotional benefits as well. After all, a bit of sun goes a long way to improve your overall health and mood. Imagine what adding some walking to that will do.

Emotional Benefits

Can Be Done Anywhere

While the physical aspect of bird watching can be a tremendous benefit, seniors who aren’t able to leave their homes can still benefit from this kind of activity. The beauty of bird watching is that if you have a chair or bed and a window, more than likely, you can observe birds from the comfort of your home.

Being limited to your home isn’t as restrictive for bird watchers as you’d think. If their windows are able to be opened, seniors can still hear the beautiful sounds of the birds as they twitter about and sing. Being indoors doesn’t limit anyone from having the full bird watching experience.

Some other ways you can participate in bird watching include watching video streams of bird watchers from around the world, which allows seniors to observe birds they wouldn’t get to see otherwise. And on those colder or hotter days, even the more active seniors can benefit from watching birds behind closed windows.

Helps You Practice Mindfulness

Bird watching is an activity that requires patience and determination. You have to be able to handle waiting quietly for long periods of time to potentially see a bird on your list.

This waiting period is a perfect opportunity for seniors to work on their mindfulness skills. While waiting for birds to appear, they can practice breathing techniques and clear their minds of any negative thoughts.

The joy created when seeing a bird you’ve been looking for helps to further the benefits of these mindfulness practices. Seniors who work on their mindfulness will be able to fully enjoy the positivity once the bird does appear.

Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Being outside in nature has the natural ability to calm down our whole bodies. So what does this mean for seniors who wish to participate in bird watching?

It means they will soon start to see their stress and anxiety levels diminish. Being near singing birds has a positive effect on our minds and bodies, creating a feeling of relaxation which directly correlates with the level of stress and anxiety we experience.

Seniors can go to their window or sit in a park to watch the birds and let the sounds of nature ease the tension in their bodies. Getting rid of negative emotions will have a long-term positive effect on other areas of your loved one’s health.

Improves Your Cognition

A great way for seniors with memory challenges to work on their cognition is to observe the world around them. This allows them to pick up on patterns and visual cues, as well as improve their memory.

Bird watching is a great way to get seniors out of their comfort zone and engage with positive brain activities. Observing a bird’s song has a similar effect on dementia as listening to a song on the radio does. Likewise, watching and interacting with birds as they participate in their daily activities helps seniors stay more mentally alert and work on their reflex skills.

Taking the time to use the natural world as a gateway into your loved one’s locked mind is a fun and engaging treatment plan. You’ll be amazed at what they’ll soon be able to do just from watching birds a few times a week.

Three seniors sitting outdoors in a park watching birds in the sky.

Social Benefits

Creates a Bonding Experience

One of the challenges seniors and their families face is the onset of age-related loneliness. To try and circumvent your family losing the bond you love so much, it’s best to find activities that the whole family can participate in.

Bird watching doesn’t require any skills besides eyesight and recognition. This means people of all ages can participate in the activity. Take time to plan a family outing where your senior loved one can take even the youngest ones on a journey to find a beautiful bird.

Family bonding is always important and kept alive by finding things you all enjoy. Who doesn’t love finding colorful birds and listening to them sing? Even if the younger ones aren’t as engaged with the bird finding, they might find the surrounding trees and flowers fascinating.

Allows You To Meet New People

Seniors can also make friends through their bird watching endeavors. Many towns have senior-centered bird watching groups. Helping seniors find one they can be a part of will help tremendously with preventing loneliness and depression.

We all just want to know that someone else out there cares about the same things that we do. Going on a group outing with fellow bird watchers will engage seniors in social activities while also expanding their understanding of the birds they are looking for. One of the best ways to learn is through the teachings and experiences of others.

As spring and summer roll around, Accessible is more than happy to help you and your loved ones find outdoor activities that best suit them.