It’s easy to spot the tall cranes and distinctive high rises of The Mather in Tysons, as construction crews build out the interior floors of the Life Plan Community for those age 62 and better, which will open in 2024. What is not apparent to the naked eye is The Mather’s unique wellness philosophy, which is literally being built into the community.
The Mather’s team recognizes that everyone’s wellness journey is completely unique to their life experiences and influences. That’s why the organization uses the Person-Centric Wellness Model, developed by Mather Institute, to design wellness offerings that empower individuals to choose the types of fulfillment that match their aspirations.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Nature is one of the important factors that contribute to well-being. So The Mather is incorporating biophilic design—a design approach to facilitate access to nature or things that replicate natural patterns. This can include interior spaces with sightlines to a garden, choosing natural wood and stone as interior materials, or incorporating fragrant flowers and plants indoors to spark memories and provide tactile opportunities such as gardening.
“Providing biophilic design within interior settings connects residents to the natural world,” says Mary Leary, CEO and President of Mather, the organization behind The Mather. “Research shows that a connection to nature provides positive benefits to mental states and overall well-being. At The Mather, biophilic design is the intersection of buildings and programs with nature in an urban setting.”
Biophilic design is just one example of how Mather Institute’s Person-Centric Wellness Model is being applied. The Institute is the research area of Mather, the parent organization to The Mather, and is an award-winning resource for information about wellness, trends, and successful aging service innovations.
“The Person-Centric Wellness Model recognizes that wellness doesn’t look the same to everyone, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It focuses on the unique individual characteristics and external factors that influence each person’s personal wellness needs,” explains Cate O’Brien, PhD, Vice President & Director, Mather Institute.
The model identifies three universal psychological needs, or drivers, which the Institute calls the 3 As:
Autonomy: Individuals thrive when empowered to make their own choices. Even when relying on others, being able to make decisions for ourselves is a key driver of personal well-being.
Achievement: Confidence comes from doing. From learning. From knowing. A powerful way to foster wellness is accomplishment on our own terms.
Affiliation: One of the most basic human needs is to belong. To feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. Being connected to other people is critical to achieving well-being.
“Fulfilling one’s need for Autonomy, Achievement, and Affiliation creates a dynamic situation that fosters personal growth and wellness,” says Cate. In other words, people are more likely to benefit from a healthy pursuit when it’s something they’re choosing to do (Autonomy), when they feel enabled to reach their goals (Achievement), and when their efforts are encouraged by others (Affiliation).
Activities that people are intrinsically motivated to perform are more likely to satisfy the three drivers than ones in which they are asked to participate. “For example, when people voluntarily help others, they’re engaging in an activity of their own volition, they have an opportunity to apply their skills, and it fosters a sense of closeness or Affiliation to others,” explains Cate.
From Mindfulness to Vibrational Therapy
“We’re excited to see the model come to life at The Mather,” says Cate. “Its influence should assist our future wellness programs and other offerings to be that more fulfilling for each participant.” And those offerings are guaranteed to be plentiful and often unique!
“The Mather is attracting a diverse group of older adults,” says Mary. “As a result, we aim to incorporate wellness practices from around the world, including Wyda movement theory of the Celtic Druids, which helps people achieve harmony with nature and contentment through mindfulness.” This holistic regenerative approach is similar to Qi Gong and yoga, while born in a different part of the world. Mather Institute has a special focus on mindfulness to support older adults’ practice of present moment awareness, which can lead to increased overall well-being, compassion, and joy.
A very different example of a wellness offering at The Mather is the Gharieni Welnamis spa wave bed, which uses computer-controlled vibrational therapy and audio frequencies to train the brain to relax. “The bed increases mindfulness, concentration, and creativity—all of which support our mission of creating Ways to Age Well,SM” says Mary.
These and other personalized ways to wellness will ensure that residents of The Mather can choose from seemingly countless ways to focus on their well-being. In other words, the sky’s the limit!