Bringing the Outside In: Clever Ways 55+ Homeowners Can Add a Touch of Nature to the Home

Elderly man working on plants.

Spending time in nature can improve short-term memory, vision, concentration, and mental health for those 55 and older.

We have great news for 55+ homeowners. Research has shown that spending time in nature can improve short-term memory, vision, concentration, and mental health. It can also restore mental energy, relieve stress, sharpen thinking, boost creativity and the immune system, reduce inflammation and the risk of early death, and it may even reduce the risk of certain cancers. 

You don’t have to be deep in the forest to reap some benefits. A recent study showed that just observing nature – even indoors – increases general happiness and well-being. Holli-Anne Passmore, the author of the study and a researcher focused on the relationship between experiences in nature and various aspects of well-being, noted, “the difference in participants’ well-being—their happiness, sense of elevation, and their level of connectedness to other people, not just nature—was significantly higher”

Passmore continues, stating this, “wasn’t about spending hours outdoors or going for long walks in the wilderness. This is about the tree at a bus stop in the middle of a city and the positive effect that one tree can have on people.”

Considering that most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, why not harness the benefits of nature in your own home by bringing the outside in? Read on for our ideas about how to add a touch of nature (without allergens and dirt) to your home.

Purify Your Air

While you can certainly buy electrical air purifying systems, why not make use of what NASA calls “nature’s life support system”: plants. Kids learn in elementary school that plants use photosynthesis to convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, but what researchers now know is that plants actually purify the air. One NASA experiment found that plants remove cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, benzene, and other toxins from the air. Bill Wolverton, the former NASA research scientist who conducted the experiment explains that bigger is better, “the amount of leaf surface area influences the rate of air purification.”

When it comes to air purification, some plants are better than others. Wolverton states “the Boston fern is one of the most effective plants for removing airborne pollutants, but it is often difficult to grow indoors. I usually recommend the golden pothos as my first choice, since it is a popular plant and easy to grow.” Other easy-to-grow options for 55+ homeowners to consider include spider plants, Dracaenas, snake plants, rubber plants, and aloe vera. You might be wondering, how many plants do you need? Wolverton recommends two good-sized plants per 100 square feet.

Indoor Water Features

Humans are innately drawn to water. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nicholas says “we are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.” 

Our bodies are largely composed of water, and 80 percent of the people on Earth live near water. From a small tabletop fountain to a towering statue, indoor water features become the focal point of the room and have a calming and soothing effect. Homeowners who are 55+ can add one to their interior regardless of budget or decor — because there are options for everyone.


Whether you consider it a form of therapy or simply like to add fragrance to the air, essential oil diffusers can transform your indoor experience in a simple but powerful way. AromaWeb offers a detailed online Aromatherapy Guide for those who want to learn more. There are many synthetic fragrances available, so be sure to only use 100 percent pure essential oils that are distilled from plant sources.

Natural Light

As anyone who has struggled with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can tell you, light makes all the difference! Having more natural light in the home can boost your mood on a daily basis, and it’s also a subtle yet fantastic way to add a touch of nature to your home. Big windows and skylights are obvious choices, but you can also increase the amount of natural light in a room without renovating your home. Adding mirrors to reflect light, painting your walls in a light color, and removing dark curtains and blinds are three easy ways to amp up the natural light inside your home. 

Adding a touch of nature with these natural home improvements can help 55+ homeowners increase their general happiness and well-being. No matter how you choose to bring the outside in, there’s a way to incorporate nature that fits easily with your style, decor, and budget, and there’s no need for costly renovations, especially during your golden years!
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

Related Articles

Sign up for the Home of the Week

New Home 101
New eBook Available

Expert Advice on Buying & Building a New Home

The eBook will be delivered to your inbox. We will not share your email address.