Sunflowers and Summer Light

It is the first of August and summer is in full bloom!  Sunflowers always make me smile and think of the beautiful days of summer.  Sunflowers reach for the sun, we could learn from them. 

I am making an effort to be outside and enjoying the sun and colorful skies as much as possible.  From my morning walks, spending time in the garden, bicycling and eating lunch and dinner outside.  I love sitting in my backyard and being entertained in the evening by the humming birds that love the flowers that I planted for them.  By being outside I am able to take advantage of the blue morning and early afternoon light as well as the yellow and reddening light in the evening.  I am sleeping better than I have in years and I contribute that to being more in sync with natural light and it’s dynamic, changing qualities throughout the day.  I have more energy throughout the day and am more productive. 

Just as the sunflower feeds my soul, I am experiencing refreshment from this wonderful world of light we are blessed to live in.

Bright Light To Begin The Day

I have been reading several articles about the importance of bright light (especially natural light or light with clear blue tones) in the morning to begin our day and aid in serotonin production.  Serotonin is our feel good hormone that helps us to feel energized.  The importance of this light in the morning is that it can help to reset our internal time clock as well as be a great natural boost of energy.  This morning I was reading a blog that I follow, Alzheimer's Reading Room, the author found that when caring for his mother the day went better with several morning rituals.  One of those being:  "I led her to the kitchen and sat her at the table where she could get some bright light".  Doing this he found her day went better and she seemed more content and happier.   I love it when experience supports science and science supports experience!

Go Outdoors for Light

I have just read an article by Jack Carman, on “From Inside Out: Gardens Meet Unmet Needs”,  in this article he talks about the value of gardens to improve the quality of life for elders, in that it helps with appetite, sleep, Vitamin D absorption, balance, circadian rhythm and more health benefits.

 I appreciate this article as I love to garden, the sense of contentment and joy I receive from being out side and having my hands in the dirt and seeing plants grow is hard to replicate in any other experience.  I also enjoy the fresh air, the sound of birds and the warmth of the sun.  So this is no surprise to me that gardening can enhance and improve the lives of all of us as we age.

The majority of these benefits come from the experience of being outside and it is free.  Even on a cloudy day there is light that our eyes take in as well as is absorbed through any exposed skin.  These outdoor light levels are rarely available indoors in either a home or care community.

Quality of life is improved as exposure to the outdoors increases, unfortunately not everyone has access, for seniors who are dealing with mobility issues, loss of vision, or are living in a home in which accessibility to the outside is difficult.  Senios may live in a care community that doesn’t offer outside areas or the assistance to enjoy ones that are present.  These conditions can limit the ability to move inside and out.  This is something that must be considered and once the importance of being outside is recognized hopefully obstacles can be addressed.

Being outside for as little as 20 minutes a day can have a direct impact on some of the issues that can accompany the aging process, falls and broken bones, loss of appetite.  Having access to the natural light cycle can help with sleep, a staggering 80% of senior’s report problems with their sleep patterns.  Not only do gardens have the ability to meet unmet needs, sitting outside can help with some of these needs as well.