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Alternate Living & Aging in Place

by Louis on February 28, 2014

There are two common follow-up conversations with people who hear what I do. One is “Let me tell you about the senior housing or end of life experience with my mom/dad/uncle/neighbor…” When the stories are good, the teller “hopes to get so lucky” making new friends and being rejuvenated or dying quickly with dignity (compression of morbidity). More often, but not always, these are tales of woe, leaving them disappointed, powerless and ashamed of their role. The storyteller typically fears a similar nightmare in their own future.

The second conversation, newer and growing more common, is the daydream about how people want to live.  Folks want to take control, have fun and live in community. Their most significant memory may be college or the years following when they were living carefree and having fun in group living arrangements. They often say they want more organization or privacy and respect than their earlier experiences (or experiments) but know that sharing and community are part of the dream.

The good news is people are taking the power to make these daydreams reality. Intentionality and sharing are the guide-words of these thoughtful explorations. I recently had the pleasure of a full day brainstorm on alternate living arrangements. It is no real surprise the leaders of this progressive, intentional movement are women.

I am impressed that these accomplished and active career women include Universal Design. (And honored they included me). Our discussion included how to select room/housemates, legal aspects of co-owning property, getting responsibilities and agreements clear up front, and much more. This is not a ‘pull the wool over the eyes’, Pollyanna or rose colored glasses group. These folks are doing it, making it work, and spreading the word.

Reports about alternate and shared living often focus on financially strapped individuals banding together to make ends meet. There are financial advantages to shared households but that is not the motivation for these passionate advocates. This is intentionality at an invigorating and inspiring scale.

I include five links. Get to know the individuals. Three have books on different aspects and approaches.

1. Sarasota Living in Community Network – Linda Williams, Jeanette Watling-Mills, Tracy Lux

2. My House/Our House– Louis Machinist, Jean McQuillin, Karen Bush

3. Annamarie Pluhar- Sharing Housing

4. Women for Living in Community– Marianne Kilkenny

5. CoLodging Club– Laurie Miller (Not in attendance but a colleague also focused on these issues)

We need lots of alternatives to isolated, lonely and expensive aging. I am happy to know there is smart, proactive, thoughtful and inspiring leadership to great new ideas. I am really happy to be part of it. Thanks for including me.

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