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A1. AGING IN PLACE: INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES
An option for seniors and soon-to-be-seniors concerned about present or future living arrangements is "intentional community," or "cohousing." An "intentional community" is one in which people with a common purpose, consciously committed to living as a community, and in, for our definition, aging in place; however, the main ingredient in all intentional communities is the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services, in order to avoid the premature loss of independence, social isolation, and lack of needed services.
"Cohousing" refers to a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome the alienation of modern subdivisions in which no one knows his or her neighbor, and where there is no sense of community. The typical cohousing community has 20 to 30 units, privately owned single-family homes or apartments, arranged in such a way as to encourage interaction with neighbors. It often has a common house, workshops, shared gardens and a greenhouse, meeting and exercise rooms, and often a common kitchen and dining room where residents may choose to prepare and share meals. In many cases, more than one generation of a family will live in cohousing. You'll find these types of housing in California, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, though they're spreading more widely across the country. Although most intentional communities are located on their own land, the most famous exception is Beacon Hill Village, which was founded in 2001 and is located in Boston. This "community" for persons over 50 living at home serves not only the Beacon Hill area, but also Charlestown, the Waterfront, and the West, South, and North ends of the city. For a membership fee, it provides community wellness classes and other scheduled social and educational events, regular trips to grocery stores (yes, including Trader Joe's) and rides to medical appointments. The office can also hook you up with a vetted person to walk your dog, deliver your dinner, fix your computer, hang that crooked picture, fix your leaky faucet, or provide Medicare or tax information. You can read more about Beacon Hill Village at www.beaconhillvillage.org If you have an interest in starting your own "village" (and at least 3,000 organizations do), BHV has initiated a "Village to Village Network." Based on requests they've received, they plan to offer member Villages most of the following: (1) A real person (a "buddy") at another organized Village who has experienced what you are doing and is willing and available to councel you; (2) templates for incorporating, filing for tax-exempt status, recruiting members, etc.; (3) online software tools for member management, bookkeeping, building your own web site, etc.; (4) printable materials that can be customized to your Village; (5) chat rooms, webinars, blogs, and the like, to share experiences; and (6) group discounts that they have been able to negotiate on goods and services for members. The new website for all this material is www.vtvnetwork.org The Village to Village Network is a collaboration between Beacon Hill Village and NCB Capital Impact.
Nyland Cohousing, outside Boulder, Colorado, is a good example of "cohousing." Begun in 1992, Nyland is composed of 42 units on 42 acres, so each residence has 1/42 of the say in determining issues that affect all the residents. This is a multi-generational community, and there are some small-to-almost-grown kids on the property. This particular community is a bit more committed to "living gently on the land" than some others, so don't expect silk curtains and a golf course here. Nyland also has common rooms and a kitchen where residents take about three meals a week. It also boasts adult-only evenings where alcohol is served and kids are specifically not invited. Check out Nyland's website at www.nylandcohousing.org
A caveat: These two types of senior housing, though usually less expensive than "formal" senior housing, are generally for those of us who live with friends or family, or who want to make new friends to be with throughout our elder years. They are more "cuddly," and may afford a little less privacy than one may be used to. It's a trade-off-community or cohousing = more independence and the possibility of new friendships, versus traditional senior living = more privacy and formal living arrangements.
It's another choice, folks.
For more information on intentional communities and cohousing, see "intentional community," "cohousing," and "senior communities" on the Web.
Find related information for seniors about Aging in Place at http://www.seniorresource.com/ageinpl.htm
A2. HOW TO CLEAN OUT A HOUSE
This is the second article in a series that will appear over the following months.
You've seen the horror on TV: The sad views of "a hermit's place" on salacious local news broadcasts. People say "never in my life." Well, since we all get elderly, guess again.
It happens all the time. Perhaps a senior has limited family in the area, is served by Meals-on-Wheels, and is a recluse. One day they don't open the door for the nice lady who brings lunch and the police are summoned…and you know the rest. The trash got too heavy, so the papers got stacked by the back door instead of taken out. The envelopes were too many to sort so they got stacked until there was "time" to open them and now they cover every horizontal surface in the home. It may be very dusty, and dirty because shut-ins can lose perspective (and the will to clean; it seems overwhelming!). You get to go through every shred of it and decide what to toss, save, and what to examine later.
Begin With The Mail
Other things to look for leading to estate assets include: keys (especially to safe deposit boxes), lock combinations, donation letters, and old address/phone records. You get the idea.
Check the Closets
Hire Someone to Clean The Kitchen and Bathrooms
Attacking the Garage
Cleaning out an estate is a hard job, and a very important one. If your loved one is still alive, he or she is going to need those assets you find for their care. So don't worry too much about invading privacy, and if you do find an old ghost be sure and consider if bringing it up is a good idea before you do so. It was meant to remain a secret if you don't already know, so honor those intentions. Once you've cleaned out an estate you'll be thinking about renting it, selling it, and other options, too. Let's just get the cleaning done for now and get past it. If everyone affected pitches in to help it can be a bonding experience for the family, and a whole lot easier to accomplish.
Find topic related books at: http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm#books
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. Disaster-Ready Phones
See the Disaster Supply Checklist and supplies at http://www.seniorresource.com/srdisaster.htm
2. Motor Coaches to Bring Services Closer to Veterans
Vet Centers, operated by the VA's Readjustment Counseling Service, provide non-medical readjustment counseling in easily accessible, consumer-oriented facilities, addressing the social and economic dimensions of post-war needs. This includes psychological counseling for traumatic military-related experiences and family counseling when needed for the veteran's readjustment.
Additional health information may be found at: http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
1. Looking to Work From Home?
Additional information on Positive Aging may be found at: http://www.seniorresource.com/ageproc.htm
2. Stop Drunk Driving
Too many people still fail to understand that alcohol and driving don't mix. Impaired driving is no accident-nor is it a victimless crime.
Officers will be out in full force during the Fourth of July holiday period, cracking down on drunk drivers with an aggressive enforcement blitz.
Much of the tragedy from drunk driving can be prevented with a few simple precautions before going out to celebrate:
To learn how to provide grassroots support for impaired-driving law enforcement
crackdown efforts visit: http://www.seniorresource.com/ageproc.htm#ddr
E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
Why, Why, Why
It Takes Teamwork
An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole digger, "I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting into your work, but I don't get it-why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?"
The hole-digger wiped her brow and sighed, "Well, I suppose it probably
looks odd because we're normally a three-person team. But today the lady
who plants the trees called in sick.
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at: http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm
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SPONSOR AN ISSUE
This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
Aging in Place