How Nature Nurtures

Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter

How Nature Nurtures

Oct 15, 2018

As we age, the path to happiness may be exactly that: a path. Perhaps one in a park or garden, with some sunshine added in for good measure.

Elderly woman walking alongside with the caregiver

In recent years, scientific research has confirmed what we know intuitively: nature lifts our spirits. For seniors, it offers a simple, effective way to improve their outlook on life.

If that sounds like an invitation to storm the wilderness with a backpack and compass, you don't have to go that far—your local park or a neighborhood garden will do nicely. It turns out that even a modest amount of contact with nature goes a long way, making it particularly accessible for seniors. For example, natural scents or sounds can reduce stress and improve mood. Studies have shown that exposure to birds singing or the smell of flowers has a measurable, positive impact on wellbeing.

Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, notes that interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools for seniors. "Focus on places you find the most pleasing," he advises. "The goal is to get away from stimulating settings and experience a natural environment."

Not surprisingly, nature's psychological benefits have given rise to a new healthcare discipline. "Ecotherapy" is tapping into the growing body of scientific knowledge about our kinship with the world around us. Increasingly, seniors are participating in nature-based activities like horticultural therapy, joining groups of their peers to work with plants or in gardens as a way to combat social isolation.

The trend, says Noah Marco, MD, the Jewish Home's chief medical officer, offers a refreshingly affordable, low-tech way to stay healthy. "In our modern age, we have a tendency to think that effective remedies will probably be complex and costly," he observes. "Nature is precisely the opposite: It offers a simple, free, and effective way to improve one's outlook on life."

Nature plays an important role at the Jewish Home's multiple campuses, where seniors stroll along walking paths and gardens. The Home's beautifully landscaped grounds encourage them to socialize and to enjoy the lovely California sunshine.

Of course, long before there was hard data on the value of communing with the natural world, scientists were already endorsing it as a way for people to stay healthy, happy, and feeling young. "Look deep into nature," Albert Einstein counseled, "and you will understand everything better."

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

May 8

In Conversation: Mayor Karen Bass and Dale Surowitz

In Conversation: Mayor Karen Bass and Dale Surowitz In Conversation with Mayor Bass and Dale Surowitz Tuesday, June 4th, 8:15AM Valley Beth Shalom - 15739 Ventura Blvd. Reservations required | $55 per person REGISTER HERE
Read More
Apr 30

Passover 2024 a Time of Thoughtful Celebration at Los Angeles Jewish Health

During Passover this year, we were mindful of the instability around the world, vulnerability in Israel and unrest across our nation’s university campuses. Perhaps pulling at us the most is the status of hostages taken so many months ago. It could have been tempting to alter Passover Seder plans this year. Instead, as the Jewish People have done for millennia, including those who call Los Angeles Jewish Health home, we recognized that the best way to honor the hostages and everyone suffering for their beliefs, was to conduct Seder in part as a tribute to those who continue to strive for freedom from oppression. As we started Seder remembering our brothers and sisters in Israel, this was another opportunity to actively demonstrate our beliefs. These sacred traditions provide us with an anchor to hold onto and give us stability during these tumultuous times. As we share just some of the many images of Passover at LAJH this year, imagine the warm and wonderful music and prayer that wrapped the seniors like a blanket of safety, stability and joy thanks to our wonderful rabbinical leaders, Chief Mission Officer, Rabbi Karen Bender and Rabbi Ronald Goldberg. CLICK HERE FOR PASSOVER PHOTOS
Read More
Apr 30

Rabbi Karen Bender Reflects on Mission to Israel

Rabbi Karen Bender, Chief Mission Officer of Los Angeles Jewish Health, recently returned from a mission to Israel. She was there to express solidarity with our Israeli brothers and sisters, demonstrate to them that they are not alone but rather that our hearts beat as one, bear witness to the massacres, lift up soldiers and family members of hostages, and volunteer by way of farming. Rabbi Bender describes that being there was in some ways like a shiva visit and in other ways like bikkur cholim, visiting the sick. In the Talmud the rabbis state that when you visit someone who is ill, you remove 1/60 of their suffering. Rabbi Bender hopes and prays she took away some of the Israelis' suffering by piercing their feelings of isolation, despair and grief. On the flight home she wrote the following poem. Her reference to the strand of turquoise alludes to an ancient Jewish practice of adding a blueish strand to the tzitzit fringes of the prayer shawl. In those days, one would know that the sun had risen enough to say the morning Shma prayer if there was enough natural light to see the difference between the blue and white strand and the blue and white in the sky. The Diameter of the Massacres*by Karen Bender - April 2024 The diameter of the massacreswas the length of Israeland the depth of the universe.It stretched to every continent,college campuses and social mediaIt spread information and disinformationTwisting and distorting moralityAnd redefining madnessIt wreaked havoc and wrecked livesIn Israel and GazaIn kitchens and living roomsIn bedrooms and porchesIn souls and hearts. The diameter of the visitwas the length of Israelthe distance to Californiaand everyone and everywherewe will speak of it.The mission stretchedour compassion and mindsand challenged our faithin human nature.It struck us with awein every cell of our beingas we saw the resiliency of our peopleand as we strove together to answerthe unspoken question:Where shall we place all the pain?We were messengers and witnesses,representatives with wishes to helpand we did and we will. The diameter of the hugsis the length of an Israeli flagand the width of a tallit large enoughto enwrap every Israeli who hurts right nowand therefore every Israeliwith the comfort of our loveand with a strand of techelet turquoisein the tzitzit to remind us all thatthe morning will come andwe will say the Shma someday with one voice. *A reprise of Yehudah Amichai’s poem, “The Diameter of the Bomb” Rabbi Karen Bender placing letters from residents in the Western Wall Letters from residents put in the Western Wall Sample letter given to Israeli soldiers
Read More