Many people have negative stereotypes about aging. They explain small lapses in memory as “senior moments.” They see justify lack of exercise and unhealthy eating because they are already “over the hill.” They worry about spending their final years miserable and lonely in a nursing home but can’t envision any alternatives. They want yards that are “low maintenance,” preferably just lawn that doesn’t require any involvement as they age.
So, is there really any value to thinking differently about aging?
Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist is an assistant professor on the faculty of the Emery University School of Medicine. In a recent article for CNN, Bergquist wrote that developing positive stereotypes – being satisfied with the way you are aging - can help your heart, boost your memory, and result in living longer. Staying physically and mentally active is important to reduce disability. And, having this “pro-aging” mindset can also positively influence your ability stay independent, according to a study by researchers at Harvard and Yale. In fact, your stereotypes about aging can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy for how you experience aging.
If you’ve been thinking about an aging-in-place garden, you’re already showing signs of a positive outlook on aging such as these:
- You accept that you are aging when you decide to re-structure your yard for aging in place.
- You are flexible when you choose a yard that supports changes due to aging.
- You envision yourself as staying useful when considering what adaptations to make now and in the future in your aging-in-place garden.
- You feel happy when you anticipate and throw yourself into new experiences outdoors once you have an ageless garden in place.
- You often recognize that “things are better than I thought they could be” when you are able to function, move around, and handle tasks in the garden because the yard is designed for ease of use, plus visual, physical and mental enjoyment.
What’s your attitude about aging? Are your stereotypes positive or negative? Do you think aging is a battle to fight or an experience to move through gracefully?
If you start to see real value to “pro-aging” thinking, ask yourself what positive opportunities you would like to have in your yard, such as seasonal change that is familiar and reassuring each year or maybe continual chance occurrences that cause you to stop and feel the pleasure that nature has provided. An aging-in-place garden may be just what you need to keep building those positive stereotypes. What do you think? Let me know your comments!