Everyday Access to Nature Improves Quality of Life in Older Adults

Natural environments are known to promote physical, mental, and spiritual healing. People can attain health benefits by spending time outside, often in remote places to “get away from it all.” Now research conducted by a University of Minnesota graduate student with a team in Vancouver, B.C., shows that green and “blue” spaces (environments with running or still water) are especially beneficial for healthy aging in seniors.

Published in the journal Health and Place, the study – Therapeutic landscapes and wellbeing in later life: Impacts of blue and green spaces for older adults – demonstrates that by incorporating smaller features, such as a koi pond or a bench with a view of flowers, public health and urban development strategies can optimize nature as a health resource for older adults. Throughout the research, green and blue spaces promoted feelings of renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness. They also provided places for multi-generational social interactions and engagement, including planned activities with friends and families, and impromptu gatherings with neighbors.

“We zoomed in to everyday life for seniors between the ages of 65 and 86. We discovered how a relatively mundane experience, such as hearing the sound of water or a bee buzzing among flowers, can have a tremendous impact on overall health,” says Jessica Finlay, a former research assistant on the project and lead author of the paper. Finlay is now a doctoral candidate in geography and gerontology at the University of Minnesota, where she continues to investigate influences of the built environment on health and well-being in later life. “Accessibility to everyday green and blue spaces encourages seniors to simply get out the door. This in turn motivates them to be active physically, spiritually and socially, which can offset chronic illness, disability and isolation.”

Read the full article at… University of Minnesota

Fairmont Chapter gives back to seniors

By Kelsey Hering, MANKATO, June 13 — A cork bobbing in the water, a light breeze and only one lighthearted regret from passengers.  Riedesel said, “Bad day for hats, I’ll say that.” But a little wind didn’t stop Ginny from being excited about Fairmont’s Let’s Go Fishing Program on Bud Lake.

Read the full story here…

Scott County Christens Pontoon with Veterans Group

By Janice Bitters, Star Tribune, June 9, 2015, NEW PRAGUE –Summer is the season when Minnesotans pull out their boats and dust off their fishing rods in preparation for cabin weather. But for some — especially seniors and people with disabilities — getting outdoors can be a challenge.

That’s where Minnesota-based nonprofit Let’s Go Fishing (LGF) comes in.

The organization offers free fishing and pontoon boat outings to seniors, veterans and disabled adults throughout the summer. Scott County has a new chapter this year, which kicked off its season June 1 at Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park in New Prague.

“All of us know of individuals that cannot get out like they used to, and it’s hard to really realize [what that’s like] that without talking to somebody,” said Joe Holm, founder of Let’s Go Fishing. “It’s like taking something very precious from somebody that you had your whole life.”

New Prague resident Larry Smith attended the Scott County chapter’s maiden voyage June 1, which was specifically for military veterans.

“I don’t fish at all, hardly,” he said. “My wife fishes, she’s a fishing fanatic.”

Joe Vaughan, a retired New Prague fire chief and honor guard member, sat next to Smith, arms crossed, smiling out at the lake and chatting with the group.

“I caught all my fish last night at Cub,” he joked.

Vaughan said he isn’t much of a fisherman, but he plans to come back for another pontoon ride this summer.

And that’s just fine by the organizers of Let’s Go Fishing.

“It’s really about what being on the water does for a person mentally and physically,” Holm said.

Read the full story…

Alexandria Chapter Partners with local Chevy Dealer

Congratulations to the Alexandria Chapter.  They partnered with Alexandria Motors for the 2015 LGF season.  They will be pulling their pontoons in style this summer with a 2015 Chevy Silverado.  Enjoy and have a great season!

Detroit Lakes Area LGF chapter is ready for the season

By Vicki Gerdes, Detroit Lakes Newspapers, April 22, DETROIT LAKES — There may still be some snow on the ground, but Let’s Go Fishing’s Detroit Lakes Area Chapter has nevertheless begun booking trips for the 2015 summer season.

“We’ve booked over 50 trips already,” said Dave Hochhalter, chapter treasurer and past president. “Last year we had 128 (total) trips, and this year our goal is 130.”

With just one pontoon, the total number of trips taken per season has “kind of stabilized,” Hochhalter added, noting that while some larger chapters have two (or more) pontoons, “We’ve decided to stay with one for now.” The reason, of course, is that the specialized type of pontoon needed for the Let’s Go Fishing excursions — handicap accessible, with added stability for better passenger safety — can be quite expensive.

 In fact, as the Detroit Lakes chapter’s current pontoon is going on eight years old now, replacement or refurbishing has become a concern as well, Hochhalter noted. Still, the current pontoon “gets the job done,” he added. And it certainly helps that so many local businesses and service organizations provide donations and in-kind services to keep the boat running.

Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes donates a boat slip to house the pontoon each season, while At Ease Dock & Lift contributes the boat lift at no cost as well.

 “We have a new solar-powered lift this year,” Hochhalter said, with an engine for lifting and lowering the pontoon “so our volunteers don’t have to crank it up by hand anymore.”

Cenex also provides “most of the gas” for the organization’s boat excursions, and a variety of other businesses, individuals and community organizations contribute as well, Hochhalter noted. Of course, as the chapter is staffed entirely with volunteer labor, more volunteers are always needed, he added.

“Right now we have about 70-80 volunteers on our roster, but only about half of those are active,” Hochhalter said. A particular area of need is pontoon operators — “we call them captains,” Hochhalter said, as well as “first mates” to assist them with both fishing and scenic excursions.

“We can use all the help we can get, even if it’s only for a few trips here and there to ease up on our regulars,” he explained. LGF provides volunteer training for pontoon captains and first mates to ensure a safe and comfortable experience on the Let’s Go Fishing pontoon, Hochhalter said. The next training session is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Detroit Lakes Library. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is requested.

Board members are also needed to help keep the organization running year-round, along with volunteers for the annual Walk for Let’s Go Fishing and other fundraising activities. With this summer’s calendar already filling up rapidly, area senior care facilities, veteran’s organizations, youth groups, and group homes are encouraged to begin pre-scheduling their fishing or scenic boating trips now, before availability becomes limited.

The online calendar is located at the LGF website, www.lgfws.com. To find information on the local chapter, go to  LGF Chapters, click on active chapters, click on Detroit Lakes Area, and click on the calendar link, which will show the dates booked and those dates still available for booking.

Send trip requests by email to letsgofishingdl@ gmail.com (include the date and time requested). If you do not have email you can call trip scheduler Kris Tovson at 218-849-3914. The chapter will then respond with a yes or no as to whether the date and time is confirmed. Last summer, Let’s Go Fishing’s Detroit Lakes Are Chapter served 945 guests on 128 pontoon fishing and scenic trips.

“We expect to serve our 5,000th guest sometime this summer,” Hochhalter said.

With 27 chapters in Minnesota alone — and chapters in Wisconsin, Arizona, South Dakota and Colorado in their fledgling or formative stages — Let’s Go Fishing is a non-profit organization that’s all about serving people. It enriches people lives by providing on the water experiences for those they serve. These trips are provided at no cost due to the generous support from businesses, organizations, and individuals. For more information on volunteering or supporting Let’s Go Fishing please call Chapter President Tim Miller, 218-846-1444; Dave Hochhalter, 218-847-5670; or Kris Tovson, 218-849-3914… Read the full story at dl-online.com…

Calling All Volunteers… Join the team

A strong volunteer base is the core strength of LGF. Volunteers contribute time and expertise to help create memories for program participants. All LGF volunteers are well-trained individuals who have a passion for fishing and boating and a caring heart for the people they serve. They have a desire to share the outdoor experience with others and to create a community that cares for all its citizens.

We believe in the power of volunteerism to positively impact the lives of others and transform communities. Giving back to others serves our guests and enriches the lives of those sharing their skills, experience and time.   Find a chapter near you…

Dave Csanda Inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

As a veteran outdoor communicator whose career has spanned the very formative years of what today is called fishing education, Dave Csanda has fished from Alaska to Australia, Europe to South America, and all across the U.S. and Canada for everything from bass to muskies and panfish to trout. In his spare time, Csanda is active in “Let’s Go Fishing,” a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that gets seniors, youth, veterans and the disabled outdoors and fishing… read the full story here…

20 Facts about Senior Isolation That Will Stun You

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious consequences for senior health. Understanding the causes and risk factors for senior isolation can help us prevent it.20 Facts about Senior Isolation That Will Stun You

Nobody relishes the prospect of aging without a spouse or family member at their side, without friends to help them laugh at the ridiculous parts and support them through the difficult times. Yet, that is just what many North American seniors face. As the baby boomer generation crosses the over-65 threshold, it grows; but many of our aging loved ones are still feeling alone in the crowd.

Statistics on Senior Isolation

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million, or 28% of people aged 65 and older, lived alone at the time of the census. As people get older, their likelihood of living alone only increases. Additionally, more and more older adults do not have children, reports the AARP, and that means fewer family members to provide company and care as those adults become seniors.

While living alone does not inevitably lead to social isolation, it is certainly a predisposing factor. Yet another important consideration is how often seniors engage in social activities.

Statistics Canada reports that 80% of Canadian seniors participate in one or more social activities on a frequent basis (at least monthly) — but that leaves fully one-fifth of seniors not participating in weekly or even monthly activities.

Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for a variety of reasons, including retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility. Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences can be alarming and even harmful. Even perceived social isolation — the feeling that you are lonely — is a struggle for many older people. Fortunately, the past couple of decades have seen increasing research into the risks, causes, and prevention of loneliness in seniors.

Here are 20 facts about senior isolation to help you stay informed:

1. Senior isolation increases the risk of mortality.

According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, both social isolation and loneliness are associated with a higher risk of mortality in adults aged 52 and older.

One possible explanation: “People who live alone or lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention.” Efforts to reduce isolation are the key to addressing the issue of mortality, said the study’s authors.

2. Feelings of loneliness can negatively affect both physical and mental health.

Regardless of the facts of a person’s isolation, seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report also having poor physical and/or mental health, as reported in a study using data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.

Connecting seniors with social resources, such as senior centers and meal delivery programs, is one way to combat subjective feelings of isolation.

3. Perceived loneliness contributes to cognitive decline and risk of dementia.

Dr. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of Chicago, has been studying social isolation for 30 years. One frightening finding is that feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline.

We evolved to be a social species, says Dr. Cacioppo — it’s hard-wired into our brains, and when we don’t meet that need, it can have physical and neurological effects.

Read the full article at http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/10-17-14-facts-about-senior-isolation/


Spending Time in Nature Makes People Feel More Alive

Feeling sluggish? The solution may require getting outside the box – that big brick-and-mortar box called a building.

Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive, finds a series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology. And that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energizing effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world, the studies show.

Richard Ryan

Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education

“Nature is fuel for the soul, ” says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” he says.

The findings, adds Ryan, are important for both mental and physical health. “Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,” says Ryan.

In recent years, numerous experimental psychology studies have linked exposure to nature with increased energy and heightened sense of well-being. For example, research has shown that people on wilderness excursions report feeling more alive and that just recalling outdoor experiences increases feelings of happiness and health. Other studies suggest that the very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90 percent of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities.

Read the full article at http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639

What is Recreational Therapy

By Cydney  Kaplan, Owner of Independent Living Concierge

Recreational therapists work with clients to restore motor, social and cognitive functioning, build confidence, develop coping skills, and integrate past interests back into their lives. Recreational therapy is often used in rehabilitation settings, long term care, veterans hospitals, and outdoor programming. Examples of recreational therapy modalities include creative arts (e.g., crafts, music, dance, drama), sports, outdoor adventure programming (e.g., high / low ropes courses, swimming, hiking) outings, and leisure education and resources. These programs help maintain or improve a client’s physical and emotional well-being. Therapeutic recreation is based upon a holistic framework that focuses on all aspects of improving an individual’s health and functioning. By providing structured and unstructured therapy-driven services. Therapeutic recreation is used for improving physical abilities, building confidence and promoting greater self-reliance.

Recreational therapy is often used hand in hand with physical therapy and occupational therapy. All therapies work together to achieve the same goal, but use different means to get there. For example, a senior who just suffered from a stroke. The senior would go to physical therapy to strengthen their muscles that have atrophied from the stroke by lifting weights or walking. The senior would also go to occupational therapy to learn how to comb their hair or brush their teeth. And lastly, the senior would go to recreational therapy to go bowling, using an adaptive bowling ball.

In working with seniors specifically in recreational therapy, it provides an avenue to pursue new leisure skills or perhaps re-new interest in old leisure skills that they thought they couldn’t do anymore. For example, a senior who used to love to do crafts but thinks s/he can no longer do them because of a lack eyesight, the craft can be scarf painting. The senior paints directly on the scarf and even if the paint runs a bit, its ok for this activity. The senior is newly engaged in in something they loved from years before. By using a pastime a senior enjoyed the activity or game can be adapted so they can enjoy it again.

Recreational therapy in seniors is especially important because they can suffer from loneliness, depression, and anxiety, which can lead to loss of physical functioning and can contribute to early death. Recreational therapy provides an avenue for a senior to renew, maintain, and utilize important mental and physical skills, thereby prolonging overall health.

Recreational therapy adapts activities to the clients specific needs to see results. For example, when working with seniors who are unable to express themselves or aphasic (partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain caused by injury or disease) and who are paralyzed on half the body, hemiplegic (Paralysis affecting only one side of the body), the activity would be adapted to be a quieter, slower, and more controlled one; talking rather than writing activities that can be done with one hand are examples of this. On the contrary, while working with a senior without cognitive and / or physical deficits, that same activity may not need to be adapted at all.

One example of working with groups in recreational therapy is in an outing setting, going fishing. This outing is more then just going fishing, the clients are being taught skills that are good for their emotional, social, and physical well-being. For example, tying the line and baiting the hook works with eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Something most people take for granted is that these tasks can be very challenging and very rewarding at the same time. Casting or throwing the bait into the water uses gross motor skills and upper arm strength. Fishing can also enhance cognitive skills, creativity and socialization. A fishing trip helps clients relax in a different environment away from the hospital / rehab / assisted living, be outdoors, learn a new skill, and see new scenery. This is a great example of recreational therapy providing the recreational resources and opportunities to re-integrate into the community. All of these benefits are cost-effective, holistic, educational and most importantly…fun!

Read the full story at… http://independentlivingconcierge.com/life-after-50-article-the-benefits-of-recreational-therapy/