Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
The Therapeutic Effect of Birds, Revisited
June 06, 2020
By Steve Grinley
I received an email a couple of weeks ago that I thought that I would share with you. It was in response to a column I wrote some years ago, and last repeated about a year ago. I talked about the therapeutic effect that feeding and watching birds has on the elderly, referring to a study of residents of nursing homes and elderly housing. It certainly applies to more us today given the stay-at-home directives that we have been living under:
“Re: Your article on Words on Birds: Watching, feeding birds has therapeutic benefits
“Good morning Mr. Grinley,
“I wanted to let you know that your article is spot on. It came in handy for me as I was faced with a dilemma from my dad’s senior living facility that no bird feeders or bird houses are allowed on the second floor of a two-story facility. This is a senior living facility with people from ages 60+ to 103. They are from all walks of life and they all have different challenges to face daily. Some with dementia or Alzheimer’s and some that are veterans that suffer from PTSD. Others that just don’t have another place to go that will provide them with a safe place to live.
“I hung a bird feeder on dad’s second-floor patio of his very modest studio apartment. He doesn’t have much to speak of, all of his worldly possessions are gone, including my mother who passed away from a car accident nearly 20 years ago. My family visits when they can due to covid-19, but there is still something missing from his life. This bird feeder was the catalyst to his positive attitude and reason for waking up in the morning.
“Unfortunately, I was told by the facility concierge and executive director that no bird feeders or houses are allowed on the second floor because it causes a mess to the resident(s) on the first floor. Needless to say, I was not happy but at the same time I did not remove the feeder or house to comply with this newly, unfounded rule that wasn’t in the handbook provided to me when we signed his lease agreement. I offered to clean the patio of the first floor resident weekly, for as long as my dad lived there.
“After reading your article, I found new hope that maybe, just maybe they will change their minds because of the therapeutic benefits that you so vividly described in your article.
“Thank you for articulating what I couldn’t. I look forward to many more ‘Words on Birds’ that are encouraging to our elderly.
“Have a wonderful day and be safe, Lisa Callaway”
So if you have an older relative that lives alone, or is a resident of a senior living residence, you might consider adding a bird feeder outside their window. With Father’s Day ahead, you might just “perk up” your father’s or grandfather’s view of the world. Given the uptick of bird feeding activity that we have seen over the past several months during this pandemic, feeding and watching birds has a beneficial effect for all of us.