A March 5th article in the Washington Post has the aging-in-place community in an uproar. And it reminds us that getting old is a reality that most of us avoid facing until it may be too late to change.
The article discusses the new book by Stephen Golant, Ph.D., University of Florida professor. Golant is a geographer with a special interest in people-and-environment questions applied to older populations. In his book, Aging in The Right Place, Golant argues that the aging-in-place concept is not really a good solution for most seniors. He says that too many people end up in poor housing, isolated from their community, because the housing stock is old and the suburb community model does not work well as people age.
Many people in the aging in place (AIP) community think Golant's point of view is a poor one. One expert in the field of healthcare and aging, Laura Mitchell, disagrees strongly with the book’s premise and used a memorable title for her March 7th LinkedIn Pulse article: Rotting in Place .
Wow! “Rotting in place” is certainly not the ideal vision anyone has for their old age, It’s time to admit, though, that as we age we may be less and less willing to make a change in the place we live:
- perhaps because it’s a habit,
- perhaps because we are comfortable getting along where we are,
- perhaps because we have seemingly reliable resources nearby,
- perhaps because we would like to control what we can when we become more frail and less independent.
The Elderyarding® concept is built on anticipating change. It’s not a concept that fits for everyone. You have to be willing to think ahead, to plan, and to admit you are going to get old. Elderyarding® will include design for your yard at various ages as you and your partner or spouse or family caregiver change physically and mentally.
For example, saying you want a low maintenance landscape is not a plan.
A plan considers your health history and that of your family. If your father and his father both died of heart attacks in their 70’s and you have a similar chronic condition, an Elderyarding® plan might include not only maintenance options, but also an exercise circuit, and plantings for year-round landscape scenes that fascinate when viewed from a bedroom
If you are likely to suffer from depression, which does occur more often in the elderly, an Elderyarding® garden would be designed to include therapeutic elements tailored to your sensory responses to nature.
As we age, it’s smart to plan ahead, it’s smart to consider less-comfortable outcomes, it’s smart to take control to avoid “rotting in place.” One place to take control is the landscape around you. That landscape is one small element of your environment, yet a large factor you can use to take charge of your aging life. Are you ready?