Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Aging in Community As Opposed to Aging in Place

It was not so long ago that the mantra for those facing decisions about where to live in one’s advanced years was “age in place.” Today, however, the mantra has changed from aging in place to aging in a community of your own choosing.

Credit for this trend is given to the Boomers who have never been known to enter a next phase of aging quietly. There are several books devoted to providing guidance if this is something you are interested in finding out more about. One example is Your Quest for Home: A Guidebook to Find the Ideal Community for Your Later Years, written by Marianne Kilkenny. Ms. Kilkenny is also the founder of Women for Living in Community which spearheads the notion of intentional communities which can run a gamut from shared homes to cohousing communities and affinity communities. Another example is With A Little Help From My Friends, written by Beth Baker, a journalist who tells the story in this book “of people devising innovative ways to live as they approach retirement, options that ensure they are surrounded by a circle of friends, family, and neighbors.”

Leaders in the cohousing movement are husband and wife architect team Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant who own The Cohousing Company, a full-service architectural firm credited with bringing the cohousing concept to the U.S. They are also the architects of the first cohousing community built in the United States: Muir Commons in Davis, California.  The Cohousing Company not only provides architectural services, but it also offers workshops for cohousing groups to help determine the feasibility of a site, establish design priorities, build group consensus, determine what the community needs in a common house, and overall plan for project success. Books on this topic are available at their website.

Affinity or niche living communities cater to people with common interests or backgrounds, including ethnicity. Examples of affinity communities are those based on sexual orientation, university affiliation, Chinese American background, and Indian American background to name just a very few.

As you can see, and in the words of recent AARP cover boy Bob Dylan, the times they are a changing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve your Tomorrow

I wanted to write about a book that we recently ordered for our Library -- Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve your Tomorrow, published in 2015 by Praeger. This book is written by Law Professor Sharona Hoffman who teaches health law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and who also has an LLM in Health Law.

The following excerpt from the book’s abstract is enticing:

“Using an interdisciplinary approach, Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow develops recommendations for building sustainable social, legal, medical, and financial support systems that can promote a good quality of life throughout the aging process. Chapters address critical topics such as retirement savings and expenses, residential settings, legal planning, the elderly and driving, long-term care, coordinated medical care, and end-of-life decisions. The author combines analysis of recent research on the challenges of aging with engaging anecdotes and personal observations.”

The reviews for this book have emphasized the practicality of the author’s approach. On her faculty page, Professor Hoffman discusses her motivation for writing. In a two-year span, she lost her parents, her mother-in-law, and then her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. At the end of this period, she realized that she had a lot of knowledge to share, and she wanted to put her years of troubles “to good use helping others. Writing this book seemed like a natural choice.”  For those of us beginning elder law practices, the many anecdotes based on the author’s experiences may provide useful insights that may help us to empathize with our clients.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Out with the Old

An article in the January 4, 2016 issue of the New York Times (NYT), entitled “A Twist on Caring for the Parent: Move into the Home” had a startling statistic taken from a 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute:  caregivers over age 75 spend 34 hours a week assisting their elders.  

The NYT article described the response of one son who saw the writing on the wall with regard to the increasingly heavy demands of caregiving for his mother, and took the step of moving into the same continuing care retirement community that housed his mother. Allen Geiwitz, 71, and his mother, Mrs. Geiwitz, 95, each have a one-bedroom independent living apartment right down the hall from each other that enables Mr. Geiwitz to supervise his mother’s medication schedule, have dinner with her most evenings, and still have time for his own life.

They both pay $2,115 in monthly rent at Glen Meadows, a nonprofit continuing care retirement community operated by Presbyterian Senior Living, which includes meals, activities, housecleaning, laundry and some transportation. Studio apartments cost less, semidetached patio homes more.

Although not yet a craze, perhaps something to keep our eye on.