Communities Magazine: Spring 2015 Community for Baby Boomers

Communities magazineI was pleasantly surprised when I opened my mailbox earlier this month to see the spring issue of Communities Magazine with the title “Communities for Baby Boomers” emblazoned across the cover. Since the 1970s, Communities Magazine has been the go-to publication for intentional communities of all types, and since boomers were the catalyst for the communal living movement of the 60s it is no surprise that we are also the leaders of the new initiative to create communities as we age.

The magazine has a number of great articles that would be of interest to anyone looking to develop community.

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Women’s History Month: Elsie Frank

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When I started researching for Women’s History Month I was surprised to discover very little information about women who have made a difference in the lives of aging Americans. I also learned that some extra digging can bring up a lot of great information if you’re willing to put in the work. Below the surface of Women’s History are the stories we don’t always celebrate.

One such story is that of Elsie Frank.

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Women’s History Month: Patricia Goldman-Rakic

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Have you ever heard the name Patricia Goldman-Rakic? Probably not, but her work as a neurobiologist has almost certainly touched your life in some way.

It was Goldman-Rakic’s work on memory centers of the brain that allowed scientists to finally break the code on Alzheimer’s disease and several other common brain conditions. Her story came to an abrupt end in 2003 when she was struck by a car and died at the age of 66, still in the peak of her career.

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Women’s History Month: The Suffragettes

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I may have been a bit naïve when I decided to tackle this project during the month of March. I honestly believed that a simple Google search with a few keywords would get me to a wealth of information about women who were pioneers in building community. That was when I realized that what we, and multiple other trailblazers in community living, are doing is new and bold.

So I decided to take a step back.

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International Women’s Day is March 8th

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 25 years or so, you probably know that March is Women’s History Month. This Sunday, March 8th, is also International Women’s Day. Both observances were designed to bring awareness to the contributions of women in history, science, politics, and more.

For March, I want to be part of this movement and share women’s stories and achievements to bring greater recognition to the call for equality.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: The Alphabet Soup of Medicare

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DISCLAIMER: the following story is only my experience! Do not use for factual basis or advice, not that you’d want to. You’d be in the looney bin with me if you did. Just sayin’.

Medicare: this is a positively monumental experience for most of us. It is a literally coming of age.

This is my story.

So, what happened to easy to follow directions? I miss kindergarten where it was all about using safety scissors and learning how to glue.

Timing: prepare for hours…day…weeks…years? Pack a lunch. This could take a while.

The steps look a little…what’s the right word? Ambiguous?

Did you know that you’re supposed to register for Medicare with the Department of Social Security three to six months in advance of your birthday? No one told me? How does anyone know that? Did I miss a memo or a piece of junk mail or is this something you’re just supposed to know how to do like eat with a fork or saying please and thank you?

So first, I had to go on the Social Security website to sign up to be able to sign up. Or I could just go to the Social Security office. The mere thought of standing in line with my little paper number waiting for it to ding on the sign as I listened to nauseating Muzak… not my idea of a good time. Government websites are scary, but their offices can be scarier.

Oh look – I found a clue! I feel like Sherlock…

rabbit holeThese official looking BIG envelopes look like they are from Medicare, or an insurance carrier, or AARP… Well, they’re really from an independent insurance agent who seems to have received some sort of notification that I am now officially old enough to target. I wonder when they learn that trick in insurance school.

They send these internet related keys that are supposed to be only for me, but how am I supposed to know? I called the help line, but I wasn’t fooled. They want to get me as a customer, but I think I can figure this out for myself.

I hope.

But the more information I read, the worse it got. Paper began stacking up on my desk.

As I read through the mountains of paper I had been receiving, my eyes began to glaze over. I needed to call in the troops…but who are the troops?

I believe in community so I figured I’d crowdsource some help on this thing. I talked to my sister and friends who have already done it.

My friend Linda told me, “I think I am pretty smart but… I’m doing it with someone else so we cannot lose our minds!” She is quite smart. If she can’t help me, I might be helpless.

Well, it helped a little, but I still felt like I killed a few too many brain cells and I might be descending quickly down the rabbit hole.

Is there anyone I ask? Can you just tell me what to do!

Well that depends.

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author and friend, Maria

The official information is enough to cause anyone to question their sanity. I began to call it alphabet soup. Parts A and B are basic Medicare. Okay, I was fine with that. But then if you want more coverage you need to tack on supplemental plans. They’re listed A through N or something. Serious alphabet soup. Why can’t they use some other designator like colors or animals or something? Anything else but more letters!

Seriously, there is an alphabetical list on the left side of the chart that tells you about some parts of the plan. On the top of the chart is another alphabet with the kinds of coverages you can elect to supplement. They aren’t different letters. It is all the same jumble.

Hey look! The Drug/Pharmacy plan is called Plan D. Finally, something makes sense! And, of course, it is about drugs. I don’t just feel like I’m in Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I am in Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic “White Rabbit” song.

I really don’t like to think of myself as old but this really feels like it is part of that Luminosity memory training challenge.

And this is only the first year. I have the privilege of doing this every single year if I want to. Shoot me now!

From all of my online belly-aching, one of my friends took pity on me and suggested an insurance agent she knew who specialized in Medicare. Score! That was just the ticket. I am usually quite self-reliant but my brain felt like those old commercials with the eggs: “This is your brain on Medicare…” I give up!

Oh, wait, there are a few more gems!

Are you familiar with the tier of drugs? Seriously, I think it should be tears of drugs. By the time I got to figuring out what I needed, I was positively sobbing.

And they send you a card for Medicare like you would get for any insurance plan. It has your social security number on it! Hasn’t the government ever heard of identity theft? Sure, I’ll just carry that with me everywhere…

Bottom line tips:

  • Find a doctor before you turn 65 who takes Medicare patients. After this nightmare you don’t want to have to pick a new doctor, too.
  • Find an insurance specialist who handles this kind of stuff and start talking with them before you need it. It will save you from the same PTSD.

No One-Size-Fits-All Community Model

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I was just looking back on some posts I had written about a year ago and this one stood out to me specifically to remind you about again. Please take a look! Alternative Living Solutions: Tiny Homes, Pocket Neighborhoods, and More!

I thought about it quite a bit because so many people look at the Golden Girls-style household and think that is what we mean by community living as we age. And while that is a more than viable option, there are so many more. Your choice of community should reflect your personality, your desires, your hobbies, and your interests.

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Love in Community: Happy Valentine’s Day from the Grand Nudge

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From the Grand Nudge:

Based on some of my most recent posts you might think that Valentine’s Day would be a “Bah Humbug” holiday for me. While I do get a little annoyed at the Hallmarkian quality of it throughout the first two months of the New Year, I’m surprisingly a bit of a romantic. That is why I advocate love in community.

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The Me vs. We Generation

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In a recent magazine article that I clipped, and I can’t for the life of me remember which magazine it was clipped from, was this quote:

“In one of the greatest ironies of history, the Me Generation will transform into the We Generation in their later years.”

Of course this quote spoke to me because I am one of the people dedicated to helping our generation make this major shift in consciousness. But what does it mean to be a We Generation?

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Chosen Family and Community Living

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Just Google the phrase “Chosen Family” and you’ll be presented with countless articles and resources about the concept. In its most basic form the idea of chosen family is made up of unrelated individuals who function just like any nuclear and extended family.

Have you ever had a best friend you referred to her as your sister?

She was your chosen family.

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Women For Living in Community