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Bill is a visionary leader in the online Changing Aging movement and a world-renowned authority on geriatric medicine and eldercare. Bill is founder of two movements to reshape long-term care globally – The Eden Alternative and Green House Project.

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  1. Jack Neumeier
    Jack Neumeier at | | Reply

    I’m a student in the Erickson School of Aging taking the AGNG-200 course. I actually live next to what I consider to be some kind of hybridized nursing home/elderly community that offers a great deal of autonomy to its residents–the evidence is in how flooded the Giant (a local supermarket chain) is with the residents of this community. The takeaway for me however is that even in this more autonomous version of an ‘aging community’ there is a distinct lack of the second word in that phrase. Despite the fact that I live a handful of blocks away from these people, there are gates that manifest themselves physically and metaphorically.

    As we’ve learned in our course there are competing theories of aging. The ones that I’ve always found most intuitive are those that place an emphasis on social engagement and the meaningful relationships that result. Often times we lose sight of the social capital that you mentioned in your post–things tend to be measured monetarily or temporally; without any cognizance of the pernicious disregard we allot to social bonds.

    My mother’s upbringing was traditional for many Filipinos: three generations live in one household, with that reality manifesting itself in a culture and community that values the elderly, one that integrates them into society organically. Finding a valuable way to juxtapose that reality with our own as Americans holds a profound amount of value vis vis Aging.

    Thank you so much for your work!

  2. Demi
    Demi at | | Reply

    I am AGNG 200 student at Erickson School of Aging. I agree with this idea of creating an aging community because it would allow an encouraging environment where the elders could share time together as they age. An aging community would also help elders to overcome physical and emotional challenges that they usually experience at their homes. In my aging class, I have learned that as we age, our physical abilities decline and elders experience more depression and the highest rate of suicide in America is seen among elders. Engaging in activities with other people in our community could prevent depression and loneliness, and could bring the elder’s suicide rate down.

    Aging in place can be challenging for some elders because they have to overcome physical and emotional burdens. Aging in a nursing home is not desirable by some elders because they fear loneliness, and some elders are mistreated by some professionals. Aging in a community presents an appealing environment where the elders would have more freedom to do their activities surrounded by an encouraging neighborhood. This idea of aging in a community seems to help elders to enjoy life more, and it offers a solution to decrease the suicide rate among elders.

  3. Aaron D. Murphy (@AaronDMurphy)
    Aaron D. Murphy (@AaronDMurphy) at | | Reply

    Dr. Thomas,
    Thank you very much for your insights and ideas. I happen to lean more toward Dr. Patrick Roden’s stance, but also coupled with some thoughts that align with yours as well. I think Psychology plays a big part here, and the denials and strength of desires about someone’s own home cannot be ignored (ie. the 89% AARP says would prefer to Age In Place).

    Might I recommend our most recent blog which addresses some “outside the box” thinking about our vacant commercial spaces in a down economy, as well as how to create more “social network” in our own residential communities, while also creating new economy and jobs in the building industry. This requires voicing our opinions, getting involved, and caring enough about ourselves and our future to speak up. Take a look if you’d like:
    http://empoweringthematuremind.com/re-zoning-our-nation-for-aging-in-place/

    Thanks again. And as you’ll note in the blog, we completely agree that “Aging Is a TEAM sport”.

    1. janice blanchard
      janice blanchard at | | Reply

      Hi Aaron,
      Thank-you for your comments and sharing your ideas that are “outside the box.” I plan to check out your blog – always interested to hear about “repurposing” both private and public spaces in new ways! I wholeheartedly agree that building stronger social networks are a key component — and what we call the “social software” of aging in community! One does not have to leave the home they live in necessarily – but doing it alone can be difficult if not impossible, over the long haul. Aging in community advocates building those strong social networks that can help to mitigate some of the challenges we face in our own homes when we can no longer drive, need support with yard care, etc. Building and deploying social capital along with financial capital is key!
      Cheers, Janice Blanchard, Editor, Aging in Community, President, Aging Better Together janicecsa@comcast.net

  4. Margaret Critchlow
    Margaret Critchlow at | | Reply

    Out here on the opposite side of the continent there is great interest in our two-day course, Aging Well in Community, offered through Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC: http://cstudies.royalroads.ca/courses/course-listings.htm?courseID=54
    The short course evolved out of popular ten week study groups that prepare people to live in Harbourside, senior cohousing under development in our coastal BC community. Now through Royal Roads U we are reaching many whose interest in aging in community extends beyond cohousing. This is an idea whose time has come!

    1. janice blanchard
      janice blanchard at | | Reply

      Hi Margaret, Thank-you for your comments and sharing what is happening in Canada! I have several colleagues up there that I hear from and there is indeed a great deal of exciting work happening around aging well in community! Thanks too, for sharing the resource – I will check it out! Please feel free to contact me via email if I can of help!
      Cheers, Janice Blanchard, Editor, Aging in Community, President, Aging Better Together janicecsa@comcast.net

  5. Patrick Roden
    Patrick Roden at | | Reply

    Aging-in-community is a life-affirming concept for some; but not for all. My folks would no-more desire living in a community-than living in a nursing home. They love their home whcih is seeded in a community they self-identify with, and have for many years.
    They have neighbors to interact with, a neighborhood store, and most importantly, they can regulate access to their private selves.
    Aging in place for many (not all) is aging-in-community; what’s important is options…this is yet a welcomed option to the issue of environments for living into old age.

    From the “well intended camp” ;)

    1. janice blanchard
      janice blanchard at | | Reply

      Hi Patrick,
      Thank-you for your comments. I absolutely agree that the idea is to create more options and environments for our elder years. Further, I agree that some forms of aging in community – such as shared housing “golden girls homes” or “cohousing” – is not for everyone. Living in such intentional communities are just one aspect of aging in community – what we call the “physical containers” or “physical environments” of where we live. Many people already live in homes and communities they love and can “stay put” — but are still very likely to one day need support to stay they, as well as to enjoy those aspects of the larger context of “home” and “community” that give their lives meaning and purpose. There are many emerging new programs and models of “social software” – like the Village model or very specific programs such as Share the Care or Meals on Heels that can offer a great deal of support and build community. In the book, Aging in Community, are some excellent essays by those who are doing things in neighborhoods like your parents to increase their ability to stay where they are!
      Cheers, Janice Blanchard, Editor, Aging in Community, President, Aging Better Together janicecsa@comcast.net

  6. Patricia Faust
    Patricia Faust at | | Reply

    A few years ago I was the Aging in Place director for a small Area Agency on Aging. The area was very rural And the demographic scewed older than the rest of the state. It occurred to me quickly that concentrating strictly on aging in place would lead to isolationism. So my efforts expanded to educating communities about the changing demographic. In the end I was talking about taking care of each other and communities being prepared to take care of an older group of citiznes. My presentation then became – From Aging in Place to Communities for a Lifetime. We have to go from the micro approach to the macro approach if we are going to address the aging population no matter where they live. This article states that reality.

    1. janice blanchard
      janice blanchard at | | Reply

      Hi Patricia,
      Thank-you for your comments and sharing your story. I could not agree with you more! Efforts need to be made from the household and neighborhoods, to city and local gov’ts to state gov’t levels. This is especially true for transportation, land use planning, zoning and other macro-levels of community planning and development but that directly impact an elders ability to find or remain in a home and stay connected to their community. Communities for a Lifetime — are you in Florida?!
      Cheers, Janice Blanchard, Editor, Aging in Community, President, Aging Better Together janicecsa@comcast.net

  7. Rachel Mohlere, SRES, Senior's Re-Housing Advisor
    Rachel Mohlere, SRES, Senior's Re-Housing Advisor at | | Reply

    I am a huge fan of both the Eden Alternative and the Green House Project. So I guess you’ve got yourself a (another) fan, Bill. And this concept of Aging in Community is EXACTLY what I see as a needed, sane approach to this whole issue of how we, as a society soon to be heavily populated with older folk, are going to thrive. I’m working on setting up a pilot project to exemplify this approach here in Portland. Maybe we can talk!

    1. janice blanchard
      janice blanchard at | | Reply

      Hi Rachel,
      So happy to hear you are another fan of the concept of Aging in Community! The new book, “Aging in Community” is full of ideas and strategies to help you in your effort to bring the approach to Portland. In addition, there are several efforts I am aware of already underway in your city! Please feel free to contact me if I can connect you to these efforts and the people running them.
      Cheers, Janice Blanchard, Editor, Aging in Community, President, Aging Better Together
      janicecsa@comcast.net

  8. Wright Evaluation, LLC
    Wright Evaluation, LLC at | | Reply

    So true. Services to help people be safe and active in at home are important, but people also need support to be in the community. For example, I was at a meeting yesterday where an occupational therapist pointed out that there’s more focus on home safety to prevent falls, but not enough attention to safe sidewalks, which people need to get out in the community especially if they have mobility challenges. I like the phrase “aging in community.”

Is this post changing aging? Please comment!