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Bring the Outside Indoors

Audubon groups and other wildlife organizations are working to provide programming to elder homes and facilities in a manner that enriches the lives of those who live there. In today’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, more than half the residents may have some level of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia and struggle to stay connected to their surroundings.

“Nature is one of our best medicines,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “The Bird Tales program brings peace and joy to people living with dementia by connecting them with the healing power of birds. And at the same time, by encouraging facilities managers to create bird-friendly habitats, the program gives birds a boost, too.”

Research has documented that birds, particularly the sounds of birds, can benefit Alzheimer’s patients and those facing cognitive decline.

Ken Elkins, education programs manager for the Audubon Center Bent of the River in Connecticut, trains people throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He looks forward to working with additional land trusts.

Staff or volunteers bring photos, songs, stuffed birds or “ambassador birds” to the elder homes; programs also work with the facilities to develop outdoor garden areas for nature watching.

Audubon contact: Ken Elkins,

For land trusts interested in replicating the program, a new guidebook is available: Bird Tales: A Program for Engaging People with Dementia through the Natural World of Birds.

Audubon Society — Centers and Chapters

Connecticut, Maryland, Texas, Wyoming

Partners: Elder-home facilities, healthcare providers, Audubon chapters, local Alzheimer’s Association, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

Staff: Staff and volunteers

Bird Tales