March 30 is National Virtual Vacation Day, which is an unofficial holiday founded by TerranceTalksTravel.com. The company that self-declared the day is a travel website that helps people plan traditional vacations, but the day is all about promoting the concept of rest and recharging where you are. Find out more about the benefits of vacations below and how even seniors in assisted living communities might benefit from brief staycations.
While pop culture tends to define vacation as a trip to the beach or Disney World, it's actually just an extended period of recreation and leisure. While many of these "extended periods" are spent away from home, vacations can also be enjoyed where you live.
Scientific studies have shown that vacations in general are good for people. Some benefits include:
Reduction of stress by removing you temporarily from the environment and activities that might be driving some of your stress.
Improved productivity because you actually rest when you vacate. You may not realize that you're not handling your daily schedule in the best manner due to fatigue until you take time to rejuvenate.
Better sleep during vacation and afterward because you give your mind a rest from the countless concerns that plague each day.
Decreased risks of heart disease, as people who skip vacations tend to have a higher risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
Vacations away from work are probably the first thing you think of when someone says the word. But that's not the only type of vacation. Even seniors who are retired can occasionally use extended periods of rest just to enjoy themselves. This type of rest can promote increased psychological happiness, break up your routine and foster better relationships. Those are all things seniors would enjoy as much as anyone else.
A staycation is a period of leisure and recreation that doesn't involve traveling. Hopefully each resident of Hickory Villa assisted living community experiences opportunities for recreation and leisure every day. But a staycation is a little more than enjoying the activities available within the community and living your everyday, vibrant lifestyle.
For a staycation, you plan ahead and save up to do some different things, potentially pampering yourself or seeking fun local adventures. Some ideas for a staycation day in and around Omaha include:
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Seniors get a discount on admission to this attraction, but it still runs $23.95 for one person from May through September. Spring and fall admission is $19.95 and winter admissions are only $15.95. Since winter might be a bit brisk and the animals may not be as enjoyable to watch, seniors considering the zoo as a staycation destination might want to plan for taking time in the spring or fall. The zoo includes numerous exhibits, including gorilla valley, African grasslands, Asian highlands and a full aquarium.
The Durham Museum, which displays permanent and rotating historical exhibits, such as the Making of the Omaha Fire Department and a history of women in sports. A traditional soda fountain on-site provides a chance to kick back with a nostalgic treat. Admission to the museum is only $8 for seniors.
Lauritzen Gardens, which are Omaha's botanical gardens. Seniors with green thumbs or just a love of nature will love perusing the indoor and outdoor gardens. The property covers 100 acres and includes a bird sanctuary and gardens that range from herb and English perennial to children's and rose gardens. A Japanese Garden, railroad garden and woodland waterfall are just some of the beautiful things you can see at this attraction. Admission for all adults is $10 plus tax. Seniors who want to visit the gardens but aren't up to footing it over all 100 acres can buy a tram ticket for $5 for a ride and tour.
But you don't have to get out for a staycation. One of the best things about this concept is that you can customize it directly to your own preferences and needs. You might stock up on books and movies you love (or have been meaning to get to) and enjoy a staycation in your assisted living apartment. Or, you might book yourself for the royal treatment at a local spa.
How you rest and rejuvenate is completely up to you.
Technology even offers the chance at a virtual vacation, which lets you visit and explore new locations without leaving your assisted living community. For a virtual vacation, you'll need:
A virtual reality headset that's compatible with your smartphone or tablet
Free VR apps, which come in the form of travel guides, games and random experiences
Simply decide where you'd like to visit and find an app that takes you there. When you put on the VR headset, it's like you're in that location. In some cases, you can even move around within the virtual scenery. One of the great things about virtual vacations is that you can take them anytime and see places you'd never see otherwise, such as the surface of the moon.
A quick tip for seniors new to VR: Using these headsets can be disorientating at first for some people. It's a good idea to use them for the first time with a friend or family member to ensure your safety. Plus, sharing your virtual vacation makes it more fun.
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