As we explore or journey to Eden I can’t help but think we are still putting our seniors “out to pasture”. I am old enough to remember when grandparents were an integral part of daily life in the home of their children. They were the family members who needed help, but also shared their experience and wisdom with their children and grandchildren. Grandpa taught you how to fix things and grandma taught you how to cook and clean properly. Our children missed out on those great experiences that have been shared for tens of thousands of year. They don’t know what they missed; they just think seniors smell funny.
This is an important and valuable observation. What we had is lost, it is gone and it is not coming back.
The challenge is to create a new approach to aging and intergenerational life that is as good as (or maybe even better!) than what we had.
It seems that we have continued to isolate our seniors rather than integrate them back into society. Although planned communities have never really taken off in Rochester, I have seen successfully communities in other cities like Houston. These communities would benefit from having an Eden or Green House complex as a focal point of the planned community that could become a real contributor to the lives of those that live there. Communities often include a day care center, pool or clubhouse, but how often do they plan in a senior complex within the community that puts our seniors closer to the daily lives of those that live there?
This is something that Scandinavia does much better than America.
Take a look at this abstract…
Demographic projections of elder care in Sweden necessitate new and creative approaches to accommodate this rapidly growing population. This article describes a unique aging-in-place care and housing policy initiative for the elderly.
This field needs innovation and plenty of it.
Using a case example in Eksj, Sweden, the authors used a future workshop (FW) method to help seniors plan their future housing in the community. The FW is based on a collective democratic process involving full participation, open communication, organizational development, and leadership. The process steps of the three-stage FW method are described.
The key here is the engagement of elders in the process.
Results indicated that empowerment, collaboration, autonomy, social education, and decision making can be achieved in a community-network-based policy model. This demonstrates the devolution of national policy and how, at the grass roots level, local participation and public accountability can take root. Devolution created an opportunity for creatively addressing local needs.