The evolving focus on aging in place continues to produce some new words to add your vocabulary. Consider the concept of intentional community. As a large portion of seniors and boomers want to stay in their own homes, the idea of creating a consistent supportive network between homes makes a lot of sense. How that can happen is both challenging and wide open to interpretation. As the boomer generation, we are apt to make things up as we go along. I can see in the near future, creating hybrids of the two most common ways to have an intentional community, the village to village network and co-housing.
I have highlighted the basics of the V to V movement in earlier blogs. It started outside Boston over 15 years ago and has grown as a national organization with over 200 locations. It works best when the members homes are relatively close by, as in a smaller suburb or urban neighborhood. After years in serving many people to stay in their homes, these groups face the strain of always having younger people move in that can help supplement volunteer activities. In the original Beacon Hill location outside Boston, with the population reaching their late eighties and nineties, the level of assistance required has necessitated the hiring of case managers and health care aides. It is still evolving.
Meanwhile around the country, communities are inventing their own versions. Just last week I read about such a startup in Johnson County Iowa. It is called TRAIL, that stands for Tools and Resources for Active Independent Living. Their annual fees are higher than most, 45 dollars a month for single members, 60 dollars per month per couple or household. The list of included services is impressive.
Daily check in if requested
Light handy person work
Checking on your home while away
This also includes what the basic associate members get for $100/160 annual: Planned social outings, book groups , card parties, and access to preferred screened providers for heavier repair and maintenance.
Co-housing is also evolving. It started in Denmark over 30 years ago. With co-housing people get together buy land, build individual homes and maintain their own community with sharing of tasks and meals. Again there is the problem of always needing younger blood so to speak to keep it going. The only new exclusive senior co housing I have seen of late is in Berkeley California. The prices to buy in are out of this world, 530,000 to 750,000. But it has all the bells and whistles of luxury level assisted living with gourmet cafes, health clubs etc. Most co-housing communities are in a more realistic range.
They also have a network of services to maintain independence with some dependence on others. This all takes getting along, meshing priorities and planning forward to meet a greater level of need. That is true for both V to V and co-housing. My hope is that despite the diversity and demands of this huge cohort of aging population, we can create relevant versions of intentional communities.
As the youth of this nation has started to bond together to tackle addressing new solutions for old problems, maybe those of us on the other side of the timeline can find our own degree of solidarity to face the future.