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  • Author: Adrienne L. Cohen x
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Sandra S. Butler and Adrienne L. Cohen

This article presents two independent studies examining the experiences of older adults aging in rural environments in the United States. In face-to-face interviews, study participants (n = 66 in study 1 and n = 8 in study 2) were asked what they like about aging in a rural area and what they found challenging. Interview transcripts were analyzed for recurring themes in each study and striking similarities were found with regard to the importance of nature or “aesthetic capital” to the well-being of the study participants. Primary themes emerging from study 1 data included peace, safety, beauty, space, and interacting with nature. The themes emerging from the second study included the world outside the window, traveling around by car, and longing for natural beauty. A negative theme that emerged from both studies related to the dearth of health and social services in rural areas. Implications of the studies' findings with regard to the value of nature in the lives of elders are discussed in relation to practice, policy, and planning.