Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Multi-generational Living

As our population is aging, communities are having to come up with different models for care. It is always interesting to hear of new ideas and twists on older ones. There was a news piece today about a retirement home in the US where music students live among the seniors in the community. The students interact with and entertain the senior residents and in many ways seem to have become 'extended family' to each other. The arrangement is mutually beneficial despite initial concerns about housing two extreme age groups with different lifestyles and needs. In Toronto, several years ago, there was a home that did something similar by renting out rooms to students from local post-secondary schools many of whom were international. Perhaps a bit of a social experiment, it seems to be successful provided that the students are properly screened.

It reminds me a bit of a co-housing arrangement which originated in Denmark but has now spread to North America. They discovered the benefits of different generations living under one roof  many years ago. I suppose, before retirement homes and nursing homes, when extended families lived together this was known and acknowledged. Over time, as families have moved away from each other, we have lost the value of this sort of an arrangement. I wonder if, as senior care evolves, more communities will embrace multi-generational living as an option.

This model has been shown to have tremendous benefits for all involved and may be a solution to some of the problems seniors face with housing, affordability, and care. Even in small numbers, it is nice to see people 'thinking outside the box' and at the same time, improving the quality of life for seniors and young people alike.


Monday, 2 November 2015

When is it time?

Relocating one's home - no matter what your age or situation - can be an extremely stressful task. For those who are aging and are experiencing decreasing independence, it can be overwheming and daunting to think about relocating from what in many cases is a lifelong home, to a new place. It is not surprising that for many seniors, this is a taboo subject even when others around them are concerned. There are situations where people knowingly live at risk because the thought of moving to a care setting is something they are completely opposed to. Yet, leaving it too long, often necessitates a sudden move, a crisis situation and limited options. Moving when one is still fairly independent often results in increased health and prolonged independence largely due to social, physical and mental stimulation in a healthy environment.
  So, when is it the right time to start talking and start looking? 
After years of experience and listening to hundreds of stories I think that, as uncomfortable as it may be at first, it is never too early to talk about what a loved one wants in terms of care and decision making if/when they become unable to remain independent. Much anxiety around relocation stems from pre- conceived notions of what a care setting is like. Visiting a few retirement homes and speaking to residents and staff often serves to shatter negative perceptions and gives 'food for thought' for the senior and their family. While completely well and independent seniors might be opposed to this, once there are health &/or cognitive issues and some form of care is required, the need to start looking at and discussing options becomes critical. Watching someone you care about live at risk is more difficult than taking the time to address concerns and problem solve. If this is a situation you are in, do take the time to research options - before time and circumstance takes you in a less desirable direction.