cover art for Harnessing Nature for Graceful Aging: Insights from Dr. Michelle Olson

Rejuvenaging with Dr. Ron Kaiser

Harnessing Nature for Graceful Aging: Insights from Dr. Michelle Olson

Ep. 217

Joining Dr. Ron in this episode of "REJUVENAGING with Dr. Ron Kaiser" is Dr. Michelle Olson, a social gerontologist, nature-based creative arts therapist, certified forest therapy guide,and fervent advocate for the healing power of nature in enhancing mental and physical health. With a rich background in dementia care and gerontology, Dr. Olson shares her insights on the critical role nature plays in nurturing our health as we age.

Driven by a deep-rooted affection for the natural world and an influential stint with World War II veterans, Dr. Olson pursued a career dedicated to exploring nature's therapeutic potential and the integration of the arts in the care of aging populations and those with dementia. The discussion is anchored in evidence showing the myriad ways nature benefits us physically, emotionally, and cognitively. We explore everything from the Japanese tradition of forest bathing to biophilic design's emergence in healthcare settings, emphasizing nature's essential role in health and recovery.: Dr. Michelle sheds light on the practice of forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku), a method of engaging deeply with forest environments to bolster health. This practice, whether pursued independently or with guidance, fosters a profound bond with nature and oneself. 

Dr. Michelle is founder and executive director of Evergreen Minds, a non-profit organization that champions the incorporation of nature and the expressive arts into dementia care. She stresses the importance of outdoor access and its beneficial effects on mood, behavior, and the general well-being of individuals living with dementia. Incorporating nature into everyday life: The conversation offers actionable tips for integrating nature into our daily routines, demonstrating that even in urban settings or through indoor plants, we can significantly enhance our mental health and aging experience. Dr. Michelle encourages everyone to discover the health benefits of nature for their own lives and communities. She offers a compelling viewpoint on the intersection of aging, dementia care, and the intrinsic benefits of nature engagement. Her advocacy and practical suggestions underscore how simple, nature-based practices can have a substantial impact on our health, contentment, and approach to aging. In wrapping up this insightful dialogue, Dr. Ron and Dr. Michelle motivate us to reconnect with the outdoors and recognize nature as a vital element for a vibrant, healthy life at any age.

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