In Arizona where we spend our winters, we have a gated entry and a fence that surrounds the property. We know people that need watching and are very aware of what is going on. For those people that can wander occasionally, the village provides some security. But we only have a handful that have remained when that time came. It is a vacation spot boomers mostly.
But here in Oregon, the houses are set on a round street with some along the edge and some in the middle. A small gazebo is our public "park" of sorts. We do have some very elderly people in our neighborhood right now and several have left within the last year. We are a village where those of us that are younger watch out for those that are older.
My neighbor knows about everyone and we depend on her for a detailed description of the ails and woes. I see it as a good thing because I do not want to go door to door to find out the news. She walks everyday and stops to visit with anyone that is outside. She is over 80.
But what about a community that only houses dementia patients? There has been one in Holland for many years. It has been dubbed "The Truman Story" village.
...[it] is [a] place with no locks at all, no gates or fences, in the land of smiles where demented are deposited by their European families, freely living in the moment until they take their last breath. (from a documentary called "The Unspooling Mind")Since 2010 or maybe even before villages like this have been springing up around the world. The people that live there wander at will and remain safe. But, what if they could do that in a community of mixed age people?
In recent years, I read about a Japanese women that wandered throughout her village, entered shops and homes, sat in chairs and left when she was ready. Her daughter had tried to keep her locked in but it didn't work and upset the Alzheimer's patient beyond reason. The people in the businesses and the neighborhood were willing to let her wander and watched out for her when she was out of her daughter's sight.
Those of us in this neighborhood may come to that one day. I don't know. We do have a busy street nearby so that is a problem. And, I don't know about someone just opening my door and coming in. When I think of how that might be I don't know if I would be willing to do that. I suppose I would have to keep my house locked all of the time.
Thinking outside what is "normal" as we age is very interesting. Nursing homes are so expensive and the joke about the little old lady that decided to live on a cruise ship instead of going to one is sounding more and more reasonable. It would cost just about half as much.
So, just think about it. What have you seen lately that is a new innovation for caring for our elderly? I am interested.
Innovations are desperately needed. The author (Atul Gawande sp.?) has some ideas in a recent book. I began volunteering at a retirement home/memory center this year, as a volunteer visitor for 2 ladies. The place is very nice, but still rather sad.ReplyDelete
There are no easy answers are there? I you for your effort in volunteering. Thank you so much for that.Delete
Thanks for talking about this subject. We need to have more dialogue about the realities of aging from elderly mountain climbers to dementia. The range of "right" solutions could be enormous if we all got creative.ReplyDelete
I think so too. Like global warming the new realities are not the same as before. People are living to be very old and attitudes as well as solutions need to be addressed. Children play so why can't very old people?Delete
Thanks for the post Barb. I never thought of it quite the way you describe but do see it now. We have lived in our current homestead for 16+ years now and have a lady across from us that watches out for us and we for them. She is actually older than us but has 8 grown kids living in the immediate area so they do their share of "watching out for.." too. Such is rural life I guess...ReplyDelete
Yes, such is life, rural and otherwise. We live in the city!Delete
I kind of like the idea of a 'Truman' village. To be safe but still be social and have a community to depend on sounds pretty good to me. But, to be honest, if I found out I had alzheimer's I think I would find a peaceful way to simply end my time here.ReplyDelete
It all sounds so easy doesn't it? But, I can assure you, dying is not a simple as one would think.Delete
I like the idea of a village where all the inhabitants watch out for each other. I don't know how it might work in reality, though. I also wouldn't just love to have somebody come into my home whenever she might feel the urge to enter. It's a difficult dilemma that many of us will face one day, with our loved ones or ourselves.ReplyDelete
The world is changing a great deal right now. People are living to be very old.Delete
Dementia is rampant but may be related to environmental issues. But until we figure out what Alzheimers is all about, we must deal with it. In the meantime, we will just watch out for our village and hope.