Living close to nature improves brain health. More recent research has demonstrated that getting outside more often might lessen psychological discomfort. According to Washington State University studies, residing closer to both green (outdoor spaces, parks, and forests) and blue (bodies of water) surroundings may reduce the likelihood of elderly people experiencing significant psychological pain.
In elderly persons, stress can cause moderate cognitive impairment and the onset of dementia.
The authors of the study defined psychological distress as any mental health conditions that call for treatment or have a moderate-to-severe effect on a person’s capacity to participate in a work, school, and any other social situations. The researchers examined 42,980 seniors who lived in metropolitan areas of the state of Washington during the course of this investigation.
“We need to get creative in how we look at these challenges,” said Solmaz Amiri, DDes, of Washington State University Elson S. Floyd Faculty of Medicine in Spokane, Washington, in a press release. “We lack effective prevention approaches or therapies for mild cognitive impairment and dementia.”
Our goal is that this study demonstrating improved mental health in those who live near parks and bodies of water will inspire additional research into how these advantages operate and whether living nearby might help prevent or delay dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
The research team used information that had already been collected by the US Census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to identify how close people lived to either green or blue places. During this study, green spaces included nearby public parks, community gardens, and even cemeteries. Every body of water—lake, reservoir, substantial river, ocean—was regarded as a blue space.
A questionnaire was completed by each participant to determine their level of psychological discomfort. The questionnaires asked individuals to rate how frequently they felt the symptoms of anxiety and sadness on a six-item scale.
They were also asked how often they sought professional treatment, how many days they missed work due to psychological distress, and how many days their productivity was cut in half. These tests yielded results from 0 to 24, with an average score of 2.
According to the study’s authors, those who scored at least 13 on the exam and made up 2% of the group experienced significant psychological distress. 60% of people resided within half a mile.
In contrast to 1.5% of those who lived further away, over 1.3% of persons who lived within a half-mile of water and parks had serious psychological anguish.
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It is crucial to keep in mind that this research has significant limitations. The responders reportedly made subjective comments about their psychological anguish.