Proximity to Green Spaces Linked with Lower Rates of Hospitalization in Alzheimer's Patients

Proximity to Green Spaces Linked with Lower Rates of Hospitalization in Alzheimer's Patients

Living near green spaces is good for your physical health, providing opportunities to be active and get some fresh air. They've also been found to benefit mental health, including lowering the risk of psychiatric disorders for those who grew up near green spaces. Now, a new study indicates they may help lower the incidence of hospitalization for some common neurodegenerative diseases, as well.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently investigated the impacts of living near green spaces, parks, or bodies of water on patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and Parkinson’s disease. According to findings published in JAMA Network Open, proximity to green spaces was linked with a lower risk of hospitalization for ADRD. Meanwhile, outdoor spaces in general were associated with a lower prevalence of hospitalization for those with Parkinson’s.

Jochem Klompmaker, lead author and research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, says, “We can’t cure these diseases, so it’s important to identify modifiable risk factors so that people don’t get sick. Increasing physical activity, lowering stress and air pollution levels can be good for your health.”

The study involved data from roughly 62 million Medicare beneficiaries between 2000 and 2016. It also included their zip codes and information on neighboring parks, waterways, and vegetation. It found that Alzheimer’s patients living in zip codes with higher than average amounts of vegetation had lower rates of first-time hospitalizations, while proximity to waterways, greenery, and parks were all linked with lower rates for Parkinson’s patients.

The team says the reasons behind this could be lower levels of air pollution, as trees and other plants can help minimize pollution. Regardless of the cause, the researchers say the findings suggest urban planners should incorporate healthier environments within cities to benefit residents’ health.

Michelle Milliken

Michelle has a journalism degree and has spent more than seven years working in broadcast news. She's also been known to write some silly stuff for humor websites. When she's not writing, she's probably getting lost in nature, with a fully-stocked backpack, of course.

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