Kris August

Celebrating the Interconnectedness of Life

May 2024

Nature Connection for Therapy and Wellness

Recently I had a veterinary appointment with a long-time client who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago. She is still able to live at home with her partner and cat. She recognized us and understood why we were there in this familiar veterinary home visit that we have repeated for many years. She has difficulty finding words now, and conversation is limited, but our long-time connection helped her to be at ease.
We had a lovely conversation about the birds at her feeder. As she was telling me about a bird she had seen, she pointed and said, “That one but more red.” I supplied the words – cardinal, red male – and she said “YES!” with a big smile as the words and thoughts returned for a bit. She told me how much she loves birds and horses, which we have always talked about on our visits. And she mimed and pointed to her favorite things in her garden. She has a lifetime of nature connection that she is pulling from, and it continues to bring her joy. The way her partner intentionally provides these opportunities for interaction with the world around her and stimulation for conversation is beautiful.
My father had Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia and was in memory care for the last part of his life. He was also a nature lover and the facility provided visiting goats and horses along with a raised herb garden perfect for wheelchair access. He enjoyed exploring the plants and interacting with the animals, even when human interactions became more challenging.
Nature connection, for many of us, is a balm, a salve for our wounds inside and out. I find that intentionally developing a deeper connection to nature and an understanding of the interrelationships we have with all living things feeds my soul. In times of difficulty, the comfort of that larger world is there to reassure that nature is tenacious, life returns, possibly in a different form, and it is worth protecting, nurturing, and connecting with. Creating natural areas for elders and children, in workplaces and homes, and preserving wild areas for our fellow beings is a satisfying way to care for ourselves and others.

What Nature do you Nurture?