As the COVID- 19 pandemic continues on, our lives and the lives of our loved ones must find a way to press on as well. Seniors have been particularly affected by the virus, as their age and any concurrent health conditions make them one of the most at-risk populations. As temporary as we had hoped that this life of confinement would be due to the pandemic, they are still vulnerable not only to the virus but to feelings of isolation. Knowing that, there are some ways to increase our senior loved one’s quality of life by giving them a fresh perspective and a change in scenery, all while staying safe.

The Great Outdoors

The world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Today’s seniors grew up in a much different environment than the one we live in today. Many may have grown up on farms or other wide open spaces, leading more active lifestyles than they are now accustomed to. Sometimes, a ride through the countryside is just the thing needed to remind them of times past, and stimulate fond memories of their younger years. 

Immersing oneself in nature, while currently maintaining appropriate social distancing, can be fundamental to stimulating the mind- at any age. The smell of the flowers, the majestic mountain view, or the sound of the creek may be enough to reset the brain and promote a more mindful state. Questions such as, “Didn’t you used to have a car like that?” or, “Is this like the farm you grew up on?” can trigger hidden memories and open conversations with a senior that we may never have had otherwise. 

We can do many things from the comfort of our home, such as ordering groceries online to practice safe distancing, to connecting with family and friends over the phone. But doesn’t a picnic lunch at the local park sound great? We think so too. 

Stimulate the Senses

People have 5 basic senses that help our brain try to understand the environment surrounding us. Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch all play their part in creating the world we perceive on a daily basis- so why don’t we safely change it up a bit?

  • Visual senses are stimulated by the beautiful colors of the trees, fields, river and sky.  
  • Audible senses are stimulated by the sounds of the cows in the pasture, a tractor plowing and a bird’s wings flapping.
  • Olfactory senses are stimulated by the smell of wildflowers, freshly cut grass and even clean air.   

 

Apart from triggering the senses, these outdoor outings have the added benefit of helping to exercise the mind and body. If a senior is able to take a short walk to a falls or overlook, the fun of the walk may temporarily overcome any chronic ailments they experience on a routine basis, while giving them a little exercise. Additionally, encouraging a senior loved one to recall scenes from your outings can further help stimulate their memory, keep feelings of isolation at bay, and keep their mind sharp. 

Some ideas for safe outdoor activities are listed below around the Birmingham, Alabama area where Dwell at Home is based out of. If you are not around this area, check out your local town and state’s recreational parks for similar ideas and areas to explore unique to your location.  We recommend checking out each park’s website for additional COVID-19 details and recommendations that the park may be instituting prior to your travels. 

Oak Mountain State Park

Just a few miles south of Birmingham, Oak Mountain State Park can be found.

Even though it’s so close to the city center, visiting this State Park is a great way to get out into the countryside to spend the day surrounded by nature, before being able to easily head back home in a few hours.

This is the largest state park in Alabama, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities to keep returning day after day. There are miles of walking trails, beaches, and places for a senior to fish. Double Oak Lake has a small beach to escape to, while the Wildlife Center does an excellent job of caring for and rehabilitating sick and injured animals inside the park. This is also a great drive-through park for those unable to get out to explore.

The park is located at 200 Terrace Dr, Pelham, AL 35124 at 119 and 65.

Cahaba Lily Bloom

Every May, a couple of bends in the Cahaba River become one of Alabama’s most beautiful sights to see. That’s when the Hymenocallis coronaria, more commonly called the Cahaba lily, blooms. The Cahaba Lily Festival is the third Saturday in May every year in West Blocton, Alabama.

The flowers bloom between early May and late June and are found only in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Perhaps the best spot for viewing in the world, though, is five miles west of West Blocton in rural Bibb County.  Where a one-lane gravel follows the river and you are able to see the lilies from your car.

 

Cheaha State Park

Just a short drive from Birmingham is Alabama’s tallest mountain.  The scenic drive offers dramatic views of the foothills of the Appalachian mountain chain.  

At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha State Park, located on top of Cheaha Mountain, offers breathtaking views and numerous recreational activities. This 2,799-acre mountaintop retreat is known for spectacular sunsets and beautiful waterfalls.  You don’t have to leave your car to enjoy the spectacular views, but if you are feeling adventurous there are several trails to explore.

 

National Forests

There are two National Forests with close proximity to Birmingham, Alabama- Bankhead National Forest and Talladega National Forest.  Both are worth the trip, with scenic drives through beautiful natural rock formations, landscapes, waterfalls, and hiking trails.  Visit their website at National Forests in Alabama – Home to learn more.

 

 

Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama offers backcountry exploring, scenic drives, and recreation amidst spectacular views. Little River flows for most of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. The river and canyon systems are spectacular any time of year. Forest, 17 waterfalls, canyon rim bluffs, streams and pools, boulders and sandstone cliffs offer setting. The 23 mile trip around the rim of the canyon is an amazing day trip that is one of our personal favorites.

Noccalula Falls

Noccalula Falls Park is a 250-acre public park located in Gadsden,. The main feature of the park is a 90-foot waterfall with a trail winding through Black Creek Gorge at its base past caves, an aboriginal fort, an abandoned dam, pioneer homestead, and Civil War carvings. It is named from a folk legend where a Indian girl (Noccalula) leaped to her death because of a quarrel with her lover.  It is a short paved walk from the parking lot and is wheelchair accessible. The falls is an amazing place to spend a few minutes to a full day. 

Dwell at Home is here to help.

Dwell at Home is bringing in-home senior care into the palm of your hand with a mobile application that values convenience, personalized mentorship, and trust.  You can download the app in the Apple App store today by clicking here !