I dream of a day when we start talking about leaving our homes and moving into communities designed to keep us active and engaged. Most older adults over 70 have an immediate negative reaction to leaving their homes. I personally imagine the freedom of college life when I could easily stop by and visit friends.
Now in my 50s, and after caring for two parents, what I do know is that should there every be a critical incident and you need rehabilitation or skilled nursing, the bed that will be available is probably in a facility you would never want to be. When I share this fact, many clients have been open to at least looking at communities in our area. Most of them have a wait list that you can join for a nominal fee. Once you are on the wait list, should you ever need those services, you have priority at the community and can recuperate in a bed you have chosen.
After touring the local communities, a few clients shared that the amenities and activities offered are things they would enjoy. Most of them just don’t know how much the senior housing business has changed in the last decade.
In the town in which I live, we are working on developing resources for home sharing, which is the exchange of housing for help in the home. A home owner, typically an older person with a spare room, offers free or low-cost accommodation to another person in exchange for an agreed level of support. The support may include companionship, shopping, household tasks, gardening, care of pets and, increasingly, help to use the computer. It could just be to have a home- or pet-sitter while you might be traveling. Home share thus provides a solution to the needs of two groups of people – those in need of affordable housing, often younger people, and those who would benefit from some support in the home, typically older people.
My town is facing a shortage of teachers, fire fighters, police, and social workers who can’t afford to live near their work and must deal with long commutes. Currently, a one bedroom apartment would require annual income of $66,000 with little or no debt. Our hope is to match home owners, with young professionals and even graduate students, in exchange for affordable housing.
Let me know if you have any successful models working in your community. I would love to be able to help all adults re-imagine the ideal of aging in place. Dreamed.