Community or Place: A Look at Our Needs Vs. Our Wants

To build from my last post, which looked at the importance of connection as we age, I wanted to expand more on the key elements of successful “Aging in Place” and how the principles for building a community provide the alternative many are seeking.

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Community vs. Place: Why It Matters

Let’s take a closer look at aging in community and what makes it a different, and in many cases preferred, from aging in place.

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In Spring of 2015 I opened my mailbox to find the newest edition of Communities Magazine. In it was a fantastic article by Margaret Critchlow called “Senior Cohousing in Canada: How Baby Boomers Can Build Social Portfolios for Aging Well.” Since this is right in my own wheelhouse I quickly devoured the article.

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Aging in Place or Age in Community? Semantics?

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On this site I often like to make distinctions between certain phrases that I think make a difference in our perception of these concepts. For instance, I really hate the word “Elderly” and I think for good reason. Why does it have to be an adverb? Let’s just stick with “Elder” as a noun or just “older adult”.

In any case, the particular phrasing that I want to talk about today is “Aging in Place” versus “Age in Community.”

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Women Leading the Way for Community Living

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When I started Women for Living in Community I didn’t choose that name because I only expected women to be interested. I wasn’t picturing a village of Amazons armed with spears to keep the men out. I also wasn’t thinking it would be an idealized community of feminist baby boomers. My real motivation is that I truly believe women would take up this mantle of change and lead the rest of the country into a new aging paradigm.

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Love in Community Living: Cohousing with a Spouse

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Image by U.S. Army via Flickr

There is a reason this community is called Women FOR Living in Community rather than just Women Living in Community. When I began this journey I knew it wasn’t for women only but that women were the glue that could hold these community relationships together.

A young friend recently shared with me that her aging parents are moving out of their colonial style home. With joint and vision problems they are no longer able to navigate the staircase with confidence. Their home, the one where they raised 3 children, has multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and could be a perfect home for community living. Imagine, instead of selling the home, if they repurposed it and invited others to share the space with them. How could this change the game for many seniors who would prefer to age in their own homes?

I encourage you to continue reading my thoughts about community living below.

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Community Care Givers: Caring for Each Other as We Age

Cancer. Alzheimer’s disease. Heart disease. These are just a few of the things that we may face as we age. We don’t like to think about our own mortality and the things that can affect us, but it is important to have a plan in place if something does happen, not only for ourselves but also for those we care about.

I believe that living in community is a better solution than nursing homes or other forms of elder care.

Our culture tends to perceive caregivers as individuals who care for sick or dying family members. Mothers can care for children with terminal illnesses. Daughters can care for their parents stricken by dementia. Some elder women don’t have anyone to care for them at all. What if we came together to care for each other? We can change the perception of caregivers.

photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne via photopin cc

Click below to read more ideas about caretakers living in community.

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Beyond Age: Multigenerational Living

My primary focus has always been on women developing community to support each other as we age. Much of this comes from my own perspective as a baby boomer living in shared housing with other women near my own age range.

It seems that multi-generational living is currently on the rise. Many factors are contributing to this trend. Adult children are moving back in with their parents in record numbers. Economic realities make shared living situations more affordable for all family members. A generation of aging boomers who saw their parents hidden away in nursing homes is looking for alternatives.

Can families, whether chosen or by blood, foster community that disregards age and creates a situation for graceful aging?

In August of 2012, the AARP blog shared a two part post about the rise of multi-generational living. They shared some important tips on multi-generational families that I think are crucial to consider before establishing a household.

Click below to read more.

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“Who Will Take Care of You?” Learning to Rely on Each Other

Women For Living in Community is about being self-sufficient and self-reliant as we age but the key word there is “Community.” I believe women can be stronger together and we can help each other in ways we may not expect.

In 2012, 37 million American women between the ages of 30 and 84 are childfree by choice or by chance. For generations in cultures around the world it was expected that children would take care of their aging parents. The reality in our country is that many seniors are hidden away in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, even those with children.

There are alternatives.

When we ask the question “Who will take care of you?” what answer are we looking for? Is it possible that we are asking the wrong question altogether?

Click below to read more about community living as we age.

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Welcome to Women For Living in Community

Welcome to my website.

If you’re new here or it has been a while since you’ve visited you’re probably wondering who I am and why I have a website for women living in community. Let me share my story with you.

After 30 years of working in Silicon Valley I decided I needed to make a drastic change. I had watched my own parents age and eventually move into nursing homes and as I cared for them I knew this was not the way I wanted to live the last third of my life. Divorced without children, I knew that if changes were going to happen I needed to be the one in control.

I moved from Northern California to Asheville, North Carolina, with the intention of promoting community living for women like myself. Asheville, if you don’t know it, is a gorgeous town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. The city’s energy is a blend of many kinds of people coming together. Community-building is a big part of the area’s identity so I knew it was the perfect place to settle and live my own vision to champion alternative housing choices for Boomers, especially women, who want to experience camaraderie, connection and confidence in their later years.

The progressive nature of Asheville coupled with it being a retirement destination in a naturally beautiful setting  made it possible for this Californian to settle to reinvent herself in NC.  There are many retirees here.

I live in community.

Click below for more of my story.

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Women For Living in Community