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  • Writer's pictureNicole Will

Cultivating Wellness: Unveiling Nature's Power in Aging and Caregiving


Natalie Elliott Handy confessions of a reluctant caregiver

Cultivating Wellness: Unveiling Nature's Power in Aging and Caregiving with Dr. Michelle Olson, Founder of Evergreen Minds, Inc.




Nature is medicine. How do we harness the power of nature and our environment for our older adults and family caregivers? Joining us today is Dr. Michelle Olson, the founder of a charitable organization called Evergreen Minds, which aims to eradicate ageism and ableism. She reconnects communities through intergenerational and dementia-inclusive experiences and nature in expressive arts.


Dr. Michelle has dedicated over 25 years to closely working with older adults in various senior living settings. I'm so happy she is joining us today. Her credentials include being a social gerontologist, a licensed board-certified nature-based creative arts therapist, a certified Montessori dementia care professional, a certified activity consultant, and a certified forest therapy guide. In this conversation, we explore the healing power of nature and how we can better connect with our natural world.


We also talk about the impact of being a family caregiver and how it shapes our views on aging. Michelle shares her experiences with ASA and the Art Against Ageism initiative. Together, we address misconceptions about aging in our society and discuss the benefits of nature and forest therapy for older adults and their caregivers.


Michelle shares how to incorporate nature and outdoor spaces into senior living environments and homes to enhance health and wellness. We explore ways to create dementia-friendly environments and combat associated stigma. Providing support for family caregivers facing exhaustion and burnout is another critical topic.


Michelle shares with us with her successful programs and initiatives that utilize nature to benefit older adults and caregivers. We also touch on promoting equitable access to nature, especially for low-income or marginalized communities. If you're looking to integrate nature into your daily life, we discuss where to begin.


Thank you Michelle for sharing your light with us! I'm beyond excited to share your work with everyone.


Listen to our episode HERE.



Michelle shares about:

  • Nature is a form of medicine

  • How she works to combat ageism and ableism

  • The ways she fosters community connections through intergenerational and dementia-inclusive experiences, as well as nature and expressive arts

  • The healing power of nature and how to connect with it

  • The impact of family caregiving on views of aging

  • Her experience with ASA and the Art Against Ageism initiative

  • Misconceptions about aging are addressed, along with the benefits of nature and forest therapy

  • Tips on incorporating nature into senior living environments and homes is explored for health and wellness

  • Creating dementia-friendly spaces and overcoming stigma

  • Support for family caregivers facing exhaustion and burnout

  • Successful nature-based programs and initiatives for older adults and caregivers are highlighted

  • Equitable access to nature is promoted, particularly for marginalized communities

  • Starting points for integrating nature into daily life

  • The role of technology in advocating for nature-based interventions

  • Promoting conversations and investments in nature-based approaches


Learn more at www.evergreenminds.org



About Michelle Olson & Evergreen Minds


Dr. Michelle Olson is a lover of the outdoors and mindful and body-full practices. She is social gerontologist, a licensed, board-certified Nature-based creative arts therapist, a certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional, Certified Activity Consultant with a specialization in Memory Care and she is also a Certified Forest Therapy Guide. Michelle teaches about mental health and aging, and social issues in aging including ageism at Montana State University and instructor at the Lifelong Learning Center at Vassar College.


Michelle has worked closely with older adults in various senior living settings for 25 years and assists families in their aging journeys in her NY community.


During the pandemic, Dr. Olson founded a 501(c)(3) charitable organization called Evergreen Minds, Inc. which aims to eradicate ageism and ableism by re-connecting community through intergenerational and dementia-inclusive experiences in nature and expressive arts.


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*This episode is brought to you by Gigi Betty co. A boutique gift shop raising awareness and funds for caregivers and care partners. Show now at www.gigibettyco.com. Use the special code WILLGATHER20 for 20% off your order- Just for our podcast listeners!


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We are not medical professionals and are not providing any medical advice. If you have any medical questions, we recommend that you talk with a medical professional of your choice. willGather has taken care in selecting its speakers but the opinions of our speakers are theirs alone. Thank you for your continued interest in our podcasts.


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Nicole Will is our host and founder of willGather.


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