The benefits of birdwatching for the elderly

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We regularly blog about all the different activities that the elderly can do, as we think it’s extremely important that they keep physically and mentally active.

Birdwatching is another great activity that we would encourage people of any age to take up. It’s not physically demanding, so great for those who are less mobile, but is mentally very beneficial.

If you’re not able to get out and about on birdwatching walks, then you can simply set up a birdfeeder that’s visible from a window and sit back and watch the birds flock to it for all that lovely feed. A pair of binoculars will come in handy too, so you can really get a good look at them.

You need patience for birdwatching, so watching and waiting patiently can have a calming, almost meditative effect and help with reflection, relaxation and perspective.

When the birds do come, watching them offers a range of sensory stimulation and memory exercises. Noticing the patterns and colours in their feathers and their behaviour when feeding helps to engage the brain. If you get yourself a book to help identify them, then you can learn all about the different species and test your own knowledge, which is great for memory.

Birdwatching can also help with reminiscence, as the appearance of certain species and the sounds of birdsong can trigger memories.

At this time of year the birds who visit your garden will rely heavily on you to provide feed.

Peanuts are a firm favourite with winged visitors but be sure they aren’t damp or mouldy as they could then contain a poisonous fungus called aflatoxin. Fruit, seeds and meat scraps are other great alternatives, but be careful these don’t attract vermin.

You could even make your very own bird cake as a bit of a treat, just mix kitchen scraps with melted lard. Be sure not to include any harmful scraps such as salty or spicy foods, or desiccated coconut, which could swell up the birds’ insides.

Dry bread can have the same effect as desiccated coconut, so it’s a good idea to soak it in water first. A regular supply of water is also vital for a bird’s survival and this can be placed in a shallow dish or you could buy a dedicated water drinker.