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Where is permaculture for the elderly?

 
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Quick addition: lots of people seem to die in their forties in Burkina Faso so I guess there are less people that actually reach old age... sad but true.
 
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I am planning to create a community for the 'elderly', called Centurion Village, in the next 5-6 years.  
As I age, I knew that I wanted to surround myself with like minded people rather than be thrown
into a conventional retirement home to 'waste' away.  I plan to go out sliding into home base.
I don't consider myself old and I am in great shape and very youthful - at least 40 years away
from the age my Grandmother died.  Hence why I am planning now for then.  So I can live
life how I choose and give back to the planet at the same time.  

Would love to hear other people's thoughts and ideas.
 
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My wife and I just bought a very rural place in West Virginia with a house on 50 acres. The nearest neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away. We are 71 and 66, but in reasonable shape. We offered our 37 yo next door neighbors renting here in PA (we're moving in the spring to WV) a dozen acres and thirty grand to live next to us in WV. Nope, won't do it. Too remote. So this is also a subject on our minds. It looks like the only option for us is to plug into a local church and hope for the best.    
 
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Location: Mont Clare, PA
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Nora Ewer, I just love that you asked this question, as I am going to be in that position at some point. I am 61 now, want to retire in June, and work part time at a very physical job and constantly busy...I am wearing out, not because of the work, but the stress of not doing what I want...Permaculture!
That is why I happened to find your post here...I was looking for it!


It would mean death for me to go into HUD housing..but that's what I am looking forward to if I don't find something "permie" to spend the rest of my life.
I have thought of doing this myself, a permie community, with other permies around my age, and I live in Pennsylvania. So further research might tell me what's out there, or here, if anyone knows of someone with land who might need a helping hand and space for me to have my own home.
It's more than unsettling to be facing retirement alone, with a permaculture dream, and having to start over.
Thanks for listening.
Margie
'
 
pollinator
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Location: Dolan Springs, AZ 86441
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I have completed 70 transits of the sun.  I am attempting to do permaculture on my 3.66 acres of open rangeland in Northern Arizona.

As of now, I am still living alone, but I find that my health is going to fail me before I can do all the work that is needed.

I enjoy the solitude (8 miles off the paved road, 38 miles from a real grocery store). I am completely off grid, except for water and fuel purchases (propane).
I have solar power sufficient for my needs, and a 2500 gallon water tank, and conventional septic.
A well in my area is estimated to cost a minimum of $30K, and the water is likely to be tainted by heavy metals and arsenic. On of my projects is to try to use a greenhouse and a solar evaporator to purify tainted well water. I saw a TED talk about using a greenhouse to distill water from the West African air using principles based on bio-mimicry and making use of strategically-placed hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces and nighttime condensation. (I hope to increase the efficiency by using solar-powered swamp cooler to create a consistently cool place to form condensation.  

I had considered going with a composting toilet, but I found the extra work was too much for me.
Same with all those neat solar ovens and dehydrators, etc.: I simply do not have the strength and energy to build all that.

So: How do I offer my property to a mixed-age community sufficient to develop my vision too develop the property as a Desert Research and Education Center?

I want to develop techniques for creating a pasture-based regenerative agriculture system that can be applied to restoring the entire Mohave Valley!

A community for the elderly needs young people around. My property is probably not big enough by itself, but it's bordered on two sides by BLM land.

I'm hoping that I can get a government grant to use the adjacent BLM land as a test site to develop methods for a way to convert open range to a pasture-based livestock management system that would consist of 365 paddocks, separated by electric fences, and using an appropriate number of livestock, hopefully roughly equivalent to the number of head that currently are depleting the forage due to improper grass management. If I can show the rancher who runs cows on this part of the open range that he can improve his bottom line in the process, all the better. My real goal is nothing less than restoring the groundwater of the entire valley.

So here it is: Help me realize my vision, and the property is yours when I finally kick off this mortal coil!


 
pollinator
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Whoa, that was kind of intense reading this thread. Thanks for sharing a lot of important concerns. Navigating one of life’s major challenges for sure. Health issues and circumstances have inspired me to reflect on aging, family structure, culture, finances, elder care, self care, and so on. Still pretty baffled and bruised by it all so no great solutions here. More of a warning. But very curious in my own brain injury way. Whatever that is....it feels like coming out or something...saying the doctors now think I’ve had a undiagnosed TBI and several recurring TBI’s all these decades since childhood. I feel like an alien. Bring it on...lol
 FYI, I heard reports about Japan as they have a big aging issue. High percentage of population is elderly.  Some of the 60-70 year old people help take care of the 80-90 year old people. I think Northern Europe does also. The Scandinavians are pretty resourceful. What do the Swedes do? And as was mentioned in a previous comment, what do the Africans do?
 Combining a Permaculture community with a elderly community was a idea I suggested to my parents several times.  No reply except the stock “who’s going to pay for it” in a very negative cynical tone response. I didn’t know how to respond to the negativity except to say “ I’ll pitch in every cent I can earn and do a lot of the labor” (Here comes the brain injured martyr). But after enduring further neglect or negativity I responded with depression. So there it ended. Proposing a cooperative elderly community in Kenya where my Mum lives seemed to have potential due to lower costs and gentler climate. It was another dead end. More stock responses.
It seems Im the one person in my parents small shrinking family that has tried to do things together cooperatively since day one to the chagrin and rejection by everyone else in the family. This wasn’t stoicism it was extreme stoicism. They all seem to prefer to seek the easiest path and opportunities and seek money or social standing to acquire services. I feel like I’ve been born into a family of ecological curmudgeons. Hiding behind their computers, alcohol, foolish pride, and projections. Or they just put their head in the sand. Maybe they know something I don’t. Money rules?! Maybe they are simply waiting until the need to depend on someone is more urgent. I was thinking differently. A Permaculture community, affordable paid-for facilities, food forests, abundance, water and food security, etc, doesn’t appear overnight. I was trying to plan far ahead. It takes years even decades to find good acreage, plan it, pay for it, heal it, develop it harmoniously, work the bugs out, learn how to get along and trust each other,.... Yadi Yada. I think that was just too much for them. Too many video games to play, beers to drink, and holes to hide in. So I made the mistake of becoming desperate, impulsive, gullible, and naive and diving in and overcommiting with another family. Little did I know I’d been targeted by a ruthless narcissist. Well after 20 years of backbreaking work, financial martyrdom , untreated injuries, and personal neglect and suffering I accomplished an 20 acre abundant and thriving site with new buildings. 10000 trees planted.  And fixed the old buildings and barns which is brutal work.  Fixed the rental house for income. Built a new superinsulated house.  Built a 4 bay workshop in which to earn income. A plant nursery. Managed the animals......I see why old buildings are bulldozed mostly. It’s endless work and I was allergic to the dust and mold also.
 Shortly after the new buildings were complete I was told to leave. What!! Even though 20 years earlier I was promised equal partnership and would never need to worry about money or land. But I couldn’t remember exactly until later. In a sort of state of denial and numbness I continued doing work on the food forests, plant nursery, solar, conservation, and workshop construction until the sheriffs literally pushed me off the property. Lived in my car briefly then moved a Motorhome to another neglected farm (with permission).  Then I discovered that the plot against me evolved for several years. They defamed and slandered me bearing false witness to a judge to have me removed. This was a plot to escape having to recompense me anything for 20 years work and rob me of my work and property. But it felt like they were taking my family and children when they took the Permaculture site and land. I didn’t even care about the money. It hit me at an emotional level. But I should have cared about the money from the beginning. Unfortunately that’s how this system, if you can call it that, works. No money, no proof, no justice. It was my word against theirs. And they ganged up on me. I could have robbed them blind over that 20 years if I thought and plotted like they did. But I didn’t. They did. I was thinking in win win terms and assumed they were too.
 I had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t defend myself so they got away with it completely. They have to live with themselves but I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow forgot all about the promises they made. Narcissists can be so assured in their supreme entitled righteousness. Now I endure joint injuries, hiatal hernia, depression, anxiety, ptsd, poverty, ...Yadi Yada. I even sold my land in Hawaii to help fund the work I did. While they made endless excuses to not lift a finger. OMG, Sounds like a country song doesn’t it. I sometimes get pissed and feel sick on top of it all from the stress. But I have recently learned that a early undiagnosed traumatic brain injury prevented me from standing up for myself. I just immersed myself in my work like an obedient slave while they and the head narcissist took full advantage of it. The daily headaches and weird hearing, speech, and concentration symptoms made it impossible for me to deal properly with people like that. They would gaslight me when I did try to assert myself and stand up for myself. In a brain injured state I could not manage that. I sometimes wonder if in a real old fashioned village no one could get away with such deceit and falsehood.
So where are the Permaculture communities for the elderly?. I’ll do my share and make the slackers look bad so they will want to destroy me before they are exposed for the phonies they are. Just kidding but I make my point. I hope I’ve learned my lesson.  But these people will find other targets to abuse, defraud, and hurt.  Im no Odysseus who returns to his Kingdom to roust out the suitors. I’m no Robin Hood.  I got my butt whooped instead. That’s not how the story was meant to go. I guess I have a hero/martyr complex lol. No I simply tried to live with honor and integrity and got royally screwed.  But the world is a better place. And I am left wondering about self fulfilling prophecies planted in the subconscious. It would have been good to get a settlement so I could buy some land instead of being on the street. Nah, I’ll seek a new life being a Nomadic vagabond and enjoy the little freedom left. And sow good seeds of communion as I can.
This brings up another topic:  Where are the Permaculture communities for people who have been defrauded?? And are entering elder years?
And a warning to the naive or brain injured: be careful, people you think you know can turn into vicious strangers when it comes to land and money. You’ve been warned. The elderly can and do get preyed upon also. If this message helps prevent even one other person from getting ripped off then there’s some good come from it.  And don’t be angry at the bad guys. Let’s keep working on win win regenerative solutions. Put the energy into something healing. Thanks, rant over.
 
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Okay... my body is 72, but I'm far from elderly...  That being said I shall continue...

There was a guy out in CA a few years back who was pushing an IC where the older participants raised the children of the younger ones.  While there is something to be said for this type of "grandparenting" I felt that his idea was that the younger participants would run around with bacchanalian abandon while the older ones would take care of the rest.  Not my idea of a good IC...

Older members of an IC can work gardens with ease.  Sure, we may not be able to spend 8-10 hours a day digging in the dirt, but we can easily put in a solid 4 hours or more of seed planting, weeding and harvesting.  I can operate my tiller with ease and drive my tractor for hours which opens up time for others to fulfill other needs.  Don't forget too that something needs to be done with the harvest to save it for the entire year, be that canning, drying or freezing.  There is much more to growing veggies than just putting them on the immediate table.  

Older members can provide high quality educational opportunities for younger, school aged members, too.  If the choice is to "home school", as it were, there are those of us who have a wealth of knowledge in mathematics, literature, science, geography and the arts.  If not, and the younger generation attends public schools, then homework help is readily available.  

As far as health goes, a lot of this depends upon the care the community is willing to give to the aged or infirm (not all infirm are elderly...).  While I wouldn't expect a community to be specifically built around total elder care, having a dynamic community with members of many age groups...like most communities really are...seems to be ideal.  Ideally, having one member who is a licensed medical professional, such as an RN, PA or some such would be ideal.  Setting up a central clinic room where an outside medical professional could come to attend the community's needs would also be a benefit.  It isn't always the aged who need medical care, y'know.

Finally, a lot of us know decent ways of doing things because we've already made a lot of mistakes...
 
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We are planning to put some sort of tiny-ish house (AKA 'Auxillary Housing Unit') on our property for my mom who is in her mid-80's and currently living independently 1000 miles away from us.  She is in reasonable health, just unable to manage property/house upkeep on her own anymore.  We designed our house and property with the idea of aging in place, with lots of focus on developing out zone 1.  However, making plans for my mom has made me realize that we have not taken into account all exigencies, specifically the possibility of deteriorating health/debilitation.  We are childless (another lack of foresight?)  One of my grandmothers died with advanced Alzheimer's; my parents tried to take care of her for years until it got to be too much. I fully expect to be institutionalized myself if I develop that condition.

Co-housing is looking more appealing, particularly something along the lines of Elderberry:  http://www.elderberrycohousing.com/  My research is showing lots of people planning rural co-housing communities, but not many achieving it.  So it looks as though we would need to start now, in our early 60's, to find kindred souls of all ages who would be interested in setting up a permaculture-based co-housing community.  My concern with moving into a city co-housing community with access to medical care, etc. (husband's preference) is that I really believe there is going to be some sort of social upheaval around unaddressed climate change 10 -15 years from now and suspect the ability to grow one's own food will be increasingly important.  

Alternatively, we could move into the structure we build for my mom when the time comes, and rent our house out to a younger couple who would willing to take us into town to dr.'s appointments from time to time, help harvest firewood, etc.  If we could get around the septic requirements, we could set up a small co-housing community here on our land, which would be ideal.  

So much to think about!  Never thought I'd get old enough to worry about this stuff.
 
Margie Curtiss
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Location: Mont Clare, PA
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Mark Kissinger,

Have you found anyone to help you yet?
email me: morningmargiestar@aol.com      I would like to talk with you about your ideas.

Thanks!

Margie
 
David A. Smith
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Wendy Robers... One of the things I've been telling my sons of late... find a small piece of land, about 5-10 acres.  I firmly believe that either/and climate change or economic depression is going to force people to begin growing their own food as my parents did during the 1930's...and as my family had to do during the 1950's.  I just came inside from tending the weeds in my garden and I believe that it will become imperative that my sons have a place to go and grow.

Regarding co-housing units on your place, tiny homes with the elderly in mind, is a great way to go.  Depending on your location it may require you subdividing your land in order to add additional homes.  Here in SC we are limited to two homes per property.  Water and septic are always an issue to be addressed, too, you're right on that.  Caution is advised when looking for someone to rent your home with the expectation that they will help you with shopping, appointments, etc.  There are also a number of other issues of which you need be aware so you don't lose what you have.

How large is your place?
 
Wendy Robers
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Hi, David
I like your ideas about including medical support in the intentional community, as well as the value of the contributios the elders can make.

You are right,  I had forgotten about building restrictions.  Even if we had our property rezoned, it percs in only one spot.

We are on 20 acres, 17 of which are woods.  Our fruit/nut/berry guilds are beginning to mature.  Kitchen and market gardens are in full swing.  Small passive solar strawbale house, two PV arrays, one of which is battery backup.  Woodove, emergency backup hand pump on the well.  We built this place with the intention of growing old and dying here.  However, in reality the wildlife is harvesting most of the perennial crops.  As a vigorous 61 year old watching the issues my 85 year old mother is facing,  I am coming to appreciate that having lots of food growing around you is not enough for advanced old age.  What do you do once your eyesight is too poor to drive, your arthritis makes chopping wood difficult, and you no longer have the stamina to keep the paths through your food forest cleared wide enough for your walker?  

People who were 'way smarter than I had children who will care for them, and/or they amassed a small fortune to buy into one of those ugly assisted living facilities.  But even so, what is going to happen in those facilities when climate change and economic disruption intensifies?  And surely there are a number of others in my situation.

Is there a way to apply a permaculture approach for a solution?  I keep coming back to the mixed-age co-housing model.  As you said, membership fees could cover paying a nurse to live on site to monitor health. A community-owned van could take residents to appointments.  Those who can't do things like chop wood could, as you said, weed, or repair equipment, or preserve food. And teach.

It sounds straight forward, but judging by how many co-housing start-ups I find on the internet seem to never happen, it must be difficult to achieve.  It
 
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I'm 60. My husband is 77 with dementia, but still functional. He just forgets everything. I've been looking at retirement options now, and I think what I would really like is a room on a farm/ranch/community. Do some chores/gardening, pay some rent, and have community meals. Said room could even be a shed, as long as there was heat, a fan, and a light for at night. Indoor plumbing (or outhouse right next to the shed, with a clear handrail/path) would be important so he doesn't get lost when he gets up to pee in the middle of the night.
 
master gardener
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To make a point, I feel comfortable  saying, except in the extended family, that quality care for the elderly has never existed in this country.  I should probably exclude Native Americans from this.  I do have a vision (have fun getting this past the surveyors).   Imagine something like a city block populated by 4 bedroom ranch style homes with a courtyard in the middle with raised beds.  One aide per house.  The RN floats.  Wha

4 bed group homes have been around for many years  providing care for people with various disabilities. ...but try to sell this model for care for the elderly.


 
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Wanting ideas and serious input for developing a successful permaculture education facility , or permaculture conservation for the DFW Northeast Texas Region.
I have the farm place ,free of leans and incumbrances
An absolutely beautiful property with a small lake set up for irrigation use, an additional small pond , a creek . There is ample usable water and good soil for agg use .This place is well forested with many types of trees , with an abundance of wildlife. There are some large and interesting antique relics and machinery included with the farm.
This property has double entry access , with two water meters , one power meter , septic system , and a two bedroom residency . This Union Valley location has a Royse City address.
An excellent property for  useful livestock , a small farm permaculture commercial operation, tree propagation nursery , permaculture, community garden plots , various FFA and 4H projects , fishing , hiking ,  invasive feral hog trapping and bow hunting , and other outdoor activities.
This property is ideal for constructing an educational permaculture conservation farm  retreat.

On FM35 near the Union Valley Fire Department. Located between the I-30 Corridor, Royse City's Bucees location , and State Hwy 276.
Situated within a short commute from Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Tawakoni , Rockwall , Greenville ,Terrel , and Dallas Texas.
Any motivation in this objective will be appreciated. Waiting for responses.

Darrell at  darrell.speights89@gmail.com .
 
David A. Smith
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With the continued interruption of our lives with the coronavirus and the various machinations of our government, I've become aware that my future financial stability may be at risk.  Social Security, that source of funds that many (actually most, I believe) older Americans rely upon for food, shelter and monthly bills seems to be teetering on the edge of disruption.  While I have another small pension, loss of SS would be a major blow to me.  This brings into focus a greater need for other means of survival not relying on dollars to pave the way.

Living in South Carolina, and having spent many years in Florida, I see many retirees with who are sitting back enjoying their boats and country club memberships.  However, there are more of us who are unable to retire due to not having those large retirement funds backing us up.  Enter the topic of this thread... Where is permaculture for the elderly?

We need to continue expanding the thought to not only being about permaculture, but also about health care, recreation and other aspects of daily life...but, I look further into the future as to where we as mankind are going and what we may do to continue living with and supporting our Earth Mother, so that She may continue providing us a safe and secure environment.  I have my own personal dreams and desires as to what I would like to have, but looking at mankind, overall, what can we do, where can we go, to provide something more for the future?  If you haven't read about the Biosphere projects, take some time and do some net research and reading.  I feel that something along these lines, though not nearly as intense as this project was, may be something upon which we can build for the future.

I'm looking toward building a series of geodesic dome greenhouses (but not in South Carolina) within which I can grow and maintain a permaculture environment, an ecosystem of sorts that would be able to provide food and shelter to a number of people.  Greenhouses, if properly managed, will allow a year round food source.  While it requires labor to manage, it doesn't require the physical stress needed to farm or run large gardens.  Food can be grown in the ground or in raised beds, or a combination of both.  Fruit trees can be grown inside taller domes.  I would hope also that the quality of the air inside these domes could be managed to provide a healthier environment.  (Air quality was one problem in Biosphere II.  Biosphere was however a closed system and didn't allow for outside air exchange.)  I may be older than many people, but I have not given up on continuing to grow and learn or to provide something useful for future generations.
 
pollinator
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Hi. I am responding to this old thread as I think there are a lot of good points in it. We are in our 50s and thinking these same things. No kids and basically we just have each other (husband and I). I think a symbiotic and supportive community would be essential but I am not sure where to find it. We would like our own home/property but the friendly support of community. Not sure where to find this. I know many people who find this in a church. That is great and I am glad for it, but it is not for us.
Some ideas for a supportive community for all ages including older folk:
1. Snow shoveling. I would pay someone to shovel my drive, sidewalk etc. Pocket change for someone younger, and it would help us as well.
2. Help setting up a garden. Building beds, water catchment etc. Again, pay a younger person with better knees than I, to do the heavy stuff.
3. Community CSA and delivery of fresh food, or meals when needed. Have a monthly box of seasonal stuff I could pick up or deliver to me if I cant drive. Supporting the area folks who grow it.
4. Socialization when I need it. Have a gab over the garden hedge while weeding the garden? Community "field trips" to pick strawberries? Apples? Museums??

Also, we are seeing the stress and difficulty with our parents aging. I am going to be unpopular by saying we are not able to care for them physically if it is ever needed. For others who do that for your parents, you are rockstars to me. For me, there is a long history of family issues that make it impossible to get too involved in the caretaking of my elderly parent, and dealing with my siblings besides. So, while nursing homes are not pleasant, they are there for a reason.
Thanks for reading, these are just my opinions.
 
Mari Henry
pollinator
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I think that I can learn a lot from a younger person, so a multi-age community is essential. We could all help each other.
 
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Location: Western WA (PNW)
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This topic is dear to my heart. We are taking intentional steps towards building a multi-generational intentional community. We (Wayne & Heidi) are in our early 50's, and still have a lot of life left in us, and would love build a community where the old teach the young... the young take care of the old...etc. We live in western WA, and would love to hear from like -minded humans that would be interested in this concept. We are seeking land & good humans!
 
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I am delighted to see this topic and I hope it will happen everywhere ! I dreamt about it, but can't imagine being pesonally involved, hope some of you will make it happen ! I would say first just do the training and get the qualifications to be legally competent in the feild, then create it !
In  my dream, a multi-aged community had ways of sharing skills and ressources between generations, enabling older people to give and get what they needed for longer, of course. But it would also provide where necessary sheltered care for people who have become totally dependant, either because of Alzeimer or related diseases, or disablement, or just physical incapacity, in a sheltered mini-village within the community. Those people would be cared for by paid staff, (as well as their friends, neighbours and family from the community), because beyond a certain point looking after someone 24/24 is just too exhausting. They'd be treated with food, herbal remedies, meditation, an amazing environment, and all good things, whilst remaining within local legal medical requirements. They'd be free to wander around within a safe space, and to visit members of the community. They'd be listened to with respect and a true effort to understand what they want, think and/or feel, despite expressing themselves in different ways from how they would have done before, and so they'd  be able to participate in decision-making and in the running of the place, or at least their own activities, within the ability of each person. The staff would benefit from excellent working conditions, the first of them being feeling they were able to do a good job, having the time and the help to understand and to respond to the needs of the dependant people, and getting the support they need to be able to do such demanding work where you give so much of yourself. Just like in a standard residential care home, this special care would be paid for by its beneficiaries, perhaps with government aid where that exists, perhaps on a sliding scale depending on their means. Running this special care home would cost more, in theory, than a standard care home, especially if salaries were a little higher and the staff to resident ratio were much higher, which would make it more expensive for residents. However, in practice, it could be run as a not-for profit outfit, and being supported by a permaculture system (building costs low, heating costs near zero, laundry costs lower, most food grown on site, etc) -  together, these things could be enough to make it competitive.
 
Margie Curtiss
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Sonya....your dream is beautiful.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:My father is moving in this direction, and he is elderly and has Alzheimer's. The man was like my Grandmother and coud grow veggies on ledgerock it seems. He wants to convert some of his land into a raised bed strawberry U=Pick farm, and I am okay with that, and will help him out.

Our recent plans of getting out of sheep, selling two of our houses, really have to do with my aging parents. My Mom is really bad, and I expect a call at any minute saying she has died. Katie and i are in a position to not only care for my father, but also my two adopted isters who live at home who have Down Snydrome. It really is going to be hard because I have three people who cannot really function with a lot of change in their lives, but we are family, and that is what we do here.

We differ a bit in that our family does not use nursing homes. As I tye this, I am sitting in the exact spot where my Grandmother took her last breath, and my Grandfather, and my Great grandmother. It is also where my father was born, and that of my uncle. I mean that literally; they came out of my Grandmother here in a home-birth. We are a farm family in rural Maine, we literally are born and die in the same spot. We have been here for 9 generations, and I really do not see that changing. Homesteading, farming and permiculture are just a huge part of that next-generational transfer.



My respects to you! I wish we could all do it like you, but sometimes intentions are all there is...
 
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I agree that multigenerational communities offer some of the best options.

I had an abusive parent. Generational entitlement, control and “punching down” are some of the things that, from a younger person’s perspective, can poison this possibility.

Permaculture for the elderly is linked to permaculture for the young adult in my mind - it has to be a true polyculture system, but with the primary goal of building thriving, secure individuals and families who provide that critical resource-producing core labor force and perpetuate the cycle with the next generation. In sustainably multigenerational societies, the truly elderly are not the “tree” (focus) of a guild, even if they provide leadership. Identifying cultural elements that support eldercare (communal meals, guaranteed housing, healthcare access, communal property upkeep, social occasions, accessibility, disability care, continuing education, etc) and incorporating them into the foundation of the system helps everyone thrive and creates security, and thus is an important value in guiding decisions.

I’m planning to begin shaping most of our land with features specifically designed to attract long-term younger-than-us folks (we’ll be early 40s when we can start). I think Paul is brilliant with his bootcamp/ant/deep roots programs - my own ideas are a bit different, but I appreciate how he’s set it up. Opportunity, flexibility, growth, independence. Intentionally but naturally growing a community from a place of education, opportunity and innovation.

A lot of younger folks are wary of stepping into forever-home situations where they might feel they are largely support accessories to someone else’s dream. That’s why a lot of us want to escape and homestead in the first place, right? We want to try our ideas, grow our future/wealth/stability our way. Moving onto “someone’s land” comes with the caveat that it’s still not yours, not really, and even if there’s a someday agreement something could always happen between now and then. Add in the idea that the owner is significantly older and thus largely automatically societally assumed to be given deference not just through ownership but also as an experienced elder and it’s an understandably uncomfortable proposition to commit to for some. I’m not saying that older folks who want to landshare necessarily have these views, but that this perception can exist and society has taught folks to be wary.

I have young kids. Right now they both fervently declare they want to live with me forever (awwww) but I have a feeling that will disappear as they grow and develop their own dreams, and that’s ok. Valuing personal freedom means valuing their adult choice to be connected (or not) as I enhance or damage their world, and to engage with opportunities outside of any family business or related activities.

The question then, if I want the best chances of growing a multigenerational community of likeminded individuals, becomes how to use my time, labor and capital while I am young (ish) to develop a “new permie guild” of features that attract, support and protect independent but connected young folks along their whole journey that they won’t find elsewhere, and that can provide these same opportunities again at the right time for subsequent generations without becoming too saturated with “old guard” control. Something beyond the feeling of “trade your physical/emotional labor for my capital” (land access/rent/social power, in this case) that so many are seeking to escape in the first place.

Beyond opportunities to build their own capital (enough individual security that they continue to participate because they want to, avoiding feeling “trapped” in the community because all wealth is communal), this could be exposure to a variety of mentors and connections, other young people (super important!), protection from predators, resilient position to handle life’s storms (medical care, emotional support, accessibility), etc....step one is build the “soil” (those $/resource opportunities) but it takes some careful stewarding to develop the rest.

Connecting and rooting folks when they are younger will hopefully build resilient connected older communities as multiple individuals choose to age in place together, giving older folks the support of a comfortable established peer group rather than retiring and being the “new kid” in a care-focused community.

Again, my plans differ from a lot of intentional communities in that ideally, each individual will have the opportunity to use the stewarded communal resources to develop enough personal capital through their labor that they don’t feel completely “stuck” with the community as a retirement plan, but that they’re also secure that they can age in place if they choose. It’s nigh-upon impossible, but that’s my personal impossible dream that I’m going to keep chasing as best I can.

Anyways, if you managed to make it all the way through my ramblings, thank you! Stars for you. ✨ This has obviously been near to my heart and mind for a while now, and I appreciate your taking the time.

 
Jennifer Kowalski
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Related - I saw a video a few years ago that made me interested in community-integrated, self-sustaining, elder-lead/staffed multigen social businesses. Can’t find the exact video, but it was on the Ibasho house café/community center in Japan. https://www.nippon.com/en/features/c02802/
 
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I am 75 and live on 80 acres in TEXAS.  I plant, garden, harvest and put up. I look after cows, horses, donkeys and dogs and cats. My Da lived to 96 on 40 acres in the mountains of Wales.Don’t expect that all elderly people need caring for. We are far and away happier on our own.
 
pollinator
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The business end of a community dedicated to permaculture + the elderly is pretty much an insurmountable obstacle.  A friend and I began working on putting something similar together -- a retirement community for women with horses, women who loved the outdoors, and women who were creatives -- including any of those women who needed extra help as seniors.  We envisioned islands of duplex cottages (basically two tiny homes joined by one wall) so that no individual was isolated, a community building, and live-in staff (some full-time, some part-time and encouraged to work outside the community) for whatever the member/residents couldn't take care of themselves.  I was going to donate some of my land to the project, my friend was going to donate money, management, and networking skills, and we had a few women who were ready to invest.

The big problem was not starting up, but running it.  In order for it to work, it had to be something like a co-op type community where each woman contributed an initial investment plus brought in money every month to help run the place.  Younger women could keep working to generate their funds, some women would have investment or other funding sources, but at some point most would have to have additional funds due to age-related factors.  Many people have insurance for retirement/senior living; an individual's insurance money would make all the difference in whether we could fill our cottages and have a viable business or not.   However, meeting the standards that an insurance company and government codes would require would shove our start-up and maintenance costs well above the point where we could realistically make a go of it.

Unfortunately, my friend died in an accident and the project fell apart.  I'm no spring chicken so I wonder what I will do when the time comes -- sooner rather than later -- that I won't be able to manage my homesteading style of life.
 
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So many good points on this thread.  We're still in our 60s (with my hubby 5 years older than me) and our main mantra is helping ourselves by keeping health and safety in mind at all times. Working on our roof, replacing composite with metal, with dangerous drops off on three sides has been very good for re-emphasizing safety, along with using power saws. However, some of the projects I want to do are bigger than available energy - and I recently managed to expend too much of it, thereby taking down my immunity - especially not good when Covid is still circulating. Luckily my husband had just figured out how to get out from under six months of daily headaches and his energy was back so we weren't both down at the same time.

Permaculture reasons why we put this focus on safety and health:
1)  life quality is diminished when you can't physically do basic things, let alone when you're in pain
2)  we do not want to burden our 30-something daughters - one is expecting her second child and has a demanding job, and the other informed us that she did not want to be our caregiver if something happened to us, although she and her husband indicated they would be willing to pay into long term care insurance for us.  
3)  we have no other caring extended family on either side
4)  we do not want to waste our assets on medical care - so many horror stories regarding medical bankruptcies - we want to keep stress down
5)  we would like to see the grandchildren graduate high school and still be walking unaided

The main reason my hubby quit his career earlier than most was because our stress levels were way too high and I reckoned it would be a matter of time before one of us was faced with a major disease. It was a leap of faith financially, but in my book, life is not about what you do/did for work but about aging as gracefully with as good a quality of life as you can. So far, things are working out - and we had 10 years where we were young enough to explore remote areas and create a band to play music for various audiences. I also developed a long-running website and got to practice growing things plus start studying permaculture.

All that said, we talk often about how fleeting human life really is and how little it will matter to society as a whole when we are gone. I want to transform parts of our property to an Eden-like landscape, and have made a start - I just have to recognize once again that the timing of things is not up to me, and that things will work out the way they are supposed to. The major storm damage we had end December which derailed all my plans for garden design is a case in point.

We have already improved on what was here - being good stewards during our tenure is key. We can prepare for declining capabilities by putting in a masonry or rocket mass heater to cut down on firewood needs. Perhaps someone can be persuaded to rent at a reduced rate in exchange for help as we age, especially if we can get a small guest house up for us to stay in. We hope to automate water systems as much as possible to cut down on the need for maintenance and watering.

Should one or both of us become incapacitated, we are prepared to let go and downsize if need be - at some point we will have to let go of this property anyway. Whether that involves living with the daughter who said she would take us in or another arrangement, who knows - a nursing home would be last resort though. Perhaps there will be more community care situations in 20 years.

By the way, the Amish seem to have things worked out regarding keeping elders at home and engaged with family and seem to practice some aspects of permaculture as well - at least they are close to the land.
 
Mari Henry
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Wow. I am sorry this fell through. It sounds like an amazing idea. I have always wanted to see NM.

Lif Strand wrote:The business end of a community dedicated to permaculture + the elderly is pretty much an insurmountable obstacle.  A friend and I began working on putting something similar together -- a retirement community for women with horses, women who loved the outdoors, and women who were creatives -- including any of those women who needed extra help as seniors.  We envisioned islands of duplex cottages (basically two tiny homes joined by one wall) so that no individual was isolated, a community building, and live-in staff (some full-time, some part-time and encouraged to work outside the community) for whatever the member/residents couldn't take care of themselves.  I was going to donate some of my land to the project, my friend was going to donate money, management, and networking skills, and we had a few women who were ready to invest.

The big problem was not starting up, but running it.  In order for it to work, it had to be something like a co-op type community where each woman contributed an initial investment plus brought in money every month to help run the place.  Younger women could keep working to generate their funds, some women would have investment or other funding sources, but at some point most would have to have additional funds due to age-related factors.  Many people have insurance for retirement/senior living; an individual's insurance money would make all the difference in whether we could fill our cottages and have a viable business or not.   However, meeting the standards that an insurance company and government codes would require would shove our start-up and maintenance costs well above the point where we could realistically make a go of it.

Unfortunately, my friend died in an accident and the project fell apart.  I'm no spring chicken so I wonder what I will do when the time comes -- sooner rather than later -- that I won't be able to manage my homesteading style of life.

 
Mari Henry
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Hi Johanna. I worry about similar things for us. We have a home, but would like more property, but not too much to take care of and not too far out. When we were younger we would have moved way out, but not now. I am in my 50s, hubby is older. He is not able to take on major remodeling etc and caretaking, and neither am i lol. Same deal with extended family, neither of us is close to ours, and no kids. Our next place will either have to be built or remodeled to one level somehow with everything on one floor. I, or he, has to be able to take care of it if needed. I guess I would settle for another home in a small town (like we are) but with a bigger yard , a garage, and our own driveway lol.

Johanna Sol wrote:So many good points on this thread.  We're still in our 60s (with my hubby 5 years older than me) and our main mantra is helping ourselves by keeping health and safety in mind at all times. Working on our roof, replacing composite with metal, with dangerous drops off on three sides has been very good for re-emphasizing safety, along with using power saws. However, some of the projects I want to do are bigger than available energy - and I recently managed to expend too much of it, thereby taking down my immunity - especially not good when Covid is still circulating. Luckily my husband had just figured out how to get out from under six months of daily headaches and his energy was back so we weren't both down at the same time.

Permaculture reasons why we put this focus on safety and health:
1)  life quality is diminished when you can't physically do basic things, let alone when you're in pain
2)  we do not want to burden our 30-something daughters - one is expecting her second child and has a demanding job, and the other informed us that she did not want to be our caregiver if something happened to us, although she and her husband indicated they would be willing to pay into long term care insurance for us.  
3)  we have no other caring extended family on either side
4)  we do not want to waste our assets on medical care - so many horror stories regarding medical bankruptcies - we want to keep stress down
5)  we would like to see the grandchildren graduate high school and still be walking unaided

The main reason my hubby quit his career earlier than most was because our stress levels were way too high and I reckoned it would be a matter of time before one of us was faced with a major disease. It was a leap of faith financially, but in my book, life is not about what you do/did for work but about aging as gracefully with as good a quality of life as you can. So far, things are working out - and we had 10 years where we were young enough to explore remote areas and create a band to play music for various audiences. I also developed a long-running website and got to practice growing things plus start studying permaculture.

All that said, we talk often about how fleeting human life really is and how little it will matter to society as a whole when we are gone. I want to transform parts of our property to an Eden-like landscape, and have made a start - I just have to recognize once again that the timing of things is not up to me, and that things will work out the way they are supposed to. The major storm damage we had end December which derailed all my plans for garden design is a case in point.

We have already improved on what was here - being good stewards during our tenure is key. We can prepare for declining capabilities by putting in a masonry or rocket mass heater to cut down on firewood needs. Perhaps someone can be persuaded to rent at a reduced rate in exchange for help as we age, especially if we can get a small guest house up for us to stay in. We hope to automate water systems as much as possible to cut down on the need for maintenance and watering.

Should one or both of us become incapacitated, we are prepared to let go and downsize if need be - at some point we will have to let go of this property anyway. Whether that involves living with the daughter who said she would take us in or another arrangement, who knows - a nursing home would be last resort though. Perhaps there will be more community care situations in 20 years.

By the way, the Amish seem to have things worked out regarding keeping elders at home and engaged with family and seem to practice some aspects of permaculture as well - at least they are close to the land.

 
David A. Smith
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Marth Vince wrote:I am 75 and live on 80 acres in TEXAS.  I plant, garden, harvest and put up. I look after cows, horses, donkeys and dogs and cats. My Da lived to 96 on 40 acres in the mountains of Wales.Don’t expect that all elderly people need caring for. We are far and away happier on our own.



I'm with you, Marth... I'm nearly 75 and am stepping out looking to build a new life.  I and a couple others are looking to develop a commune, of sorts, where we are interdependent, growing our own foodstuffs, tending our flocks and livestock, and doing it on land we have purchased.  The limiting factor in these days, and in days to come, will be the access to water, not so much our abilities at growing our own foods.  

I see many comments here about starting out in their 50's and 60's... the time to start out is now.  I only have tomorrow, as does anyone else.  I plan to build tomorrow for my children's and grandchildren's futures.
 
David A. Smith
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Wendy Robers wrote:Hi, David
I like your ideas about including medical support in the intentional community, as well as the value of the contributios the elders can make.

If Covid did anything positive, it was in bringing remote medical care to all of us.  Today, a cell phone can tap in and display your vital signs and heart rhythms and provide them, remotely, to a qualified physician.  This takes some of the burden off of those of us who are "more mature" than we were 10 years ago.

 
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Kate Downham wrote:I wonder if intentional communities with people of all ages are a solution?

One that I know of encourages residents to help each other out informally, so elderly people get help with their gardens, and then sometimes give help by teaching children things like knitting and music lessons, and just by being elders that children can look to.

I'm not sure how this approach would work for elderly people that need a lot of day to day help, but the older members of this community seem to be thriving, and some are participating in the permaculture design course there.



It is an interesting concept, provided the elders don't have dimentia, alzheimers or pther debilitating issues..
 
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Gina Capri wrote:

Bernie Farmer wrote:

I guess my point here is that permaculture doesn't exist in a vacuum. For it to really work it has to be incorporated in life as we know it in such a way as to make it better for everyone and no village for the elderly will ever function that way. We dream of permaculture on a grand scale, encompassing everyone and everything, but we practice it on an individual basis - one-on-one, face-to-face, intimately, passionately, and compassionately. Permaculture for the elderly already exists in the lives of every single caretaker paid or unpaid, family or friend, neighbor or stranger, who takes the time to care.



I like the thoughtful conversation about this, and I absolutely don’t deny it is super hard. I watched my great grandma die from dementia over 6 years, and all the things you mentioned about siblings fighting, not all children contributing equally, only a few sacrificing to do the work happened. And she still ended up being institutionalized, because it truly was too hard. She didn’t remember anyone and felt like those taking care of her (her own children) were strangers in her house. How unsettling for her and emotionally terrible for everyone!

But there is a place where elders are naturally taken care of by the community. It’s called Africa. At least Burkina Faso. But it is so different from mainstream white Western culture that it is hard to fathom all the mentality changes that would mean to make it work in a Western white context. And is it too late, at the point where you realize grandma needs care, but grandma is not African and has different expectations, perhaps?

I do take the point about loss of income and retirement... there is an inherent problem with the system in this respect too.

From my heart, my thought is that if the expectation from the time you are born is that you will care for your community’s elders as long as possible, then more people will be able to age in community for longer, and I won’t have to keep watching lots be cleared (at least two in the last year near where I work and live) to keep building senior care facilities because the need won’t be so much. Not everyone that is in a care facility/senior living arrangement is living with dementia, we all know that. And with the mandated community care mindset, it wouldn’t matter (financially, maybe it would matter to you personally) if you suffer loss of income and retirement, because the community should be taking care of you too when you are an elder.  I guess for this to work in this day when many people only had one or two kids, the answer would need to consider both family and community contributions. Even in Burkina it’s first family but then community too.



Tell us about Africa and how they do it?
 
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S Tonin wrote:I don't know if it's still there, but in the early oughts I visited a place somewhere in upstate NY . . . intentional community for longer.  It was Theosophist, and they were kind of strict about what the community members were allowed to do.   . . .

I found the place-- The Fellowship Community in Chestnut Hill, NY.  


I realize this was posted a couple years ago ... but I'm glad I ran across the information, and the theme of this whole thread.

As one facing the challenges of age and living alone, I realize the importance to sanity of remaining connected to nature - views and access to fields, water, trees, interaction with animals and caring humans.
 
Margie Curtiss
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I absolutely agree Elsbeth!!
 
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I have been reading this off and on for some time now, and may as well pitch in, I suppose.  Currently closing in on 74 and now dealing with Parkinsons and leukemia.  Same damned thing my father turned up with.  Hereditary?  I am told not, but one has to wonder.  NOT looking for sympathy, but I have sometimes thought on finding a community where I might be able to pass on life experience and practical matters I have picked up over my time.  

I tried several places via IC.org and was either ignored or refused as, while they would not come out and say it, I was too old.  I am not dumb and know what was going on.   So, I take a dim view at this juncture of community for the aged.  It seemingly does not exist.  "Oh, he is just an old scudder and if you ignore him he will go away."  That seems to be the pervasive attitude.

So... I shake and jitter my way through the end times and make myself less apparent in public.  Shopping as early as I can when I need to, selling off tools and bits of my life, and spending a lot of time staring off into the middle distance.  Seems the best course at this point.  
 
Lif Strand
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E.L. Dunn wrote:I have been reading this off and on for some time now, and may as well pitch in, I suppose.  Currently closing in on 74 and now dealing with Parkinsons and leukemia.  Same damned thing my father turned up with.  Hereditary?  I am told not, but one has to wonder.  NOT looking for sympathy, but I have sometimes thought on finding a community where I might be able to pass on life experience and practical matters I have picked up over my time.  

I tried several places via IC.org and was either ignored or refused as, while they would not come out and say it, I was too old.  I am not dumb and know what was going on.   So, I take a dim view at this juncture of community for the aged.  It seemingly does not exist.  "Oh, he is just an old scudder and if you ignore him he will go away."  That seems to be the pervasive attitude.

So... I shake and jitter my way through the end times and make myself less apparent in public.  Shopping as early as I can when I need to, selling off tools and bits of my life, and spending a lot of time staring off into the middle distance.  Seems the best course at this point.  



That is the thing, isn't it, that at some point "old" takes over.  The world starts looking at elder folk differently, treating them differently.  Like elders are special cases of human being that just don't matter - or if they absolutely must be dealt with, then elders are condescended to.  It's maddening to know so much through life experience and education, and find that nobody wants to know about it.

Worse is that I catch myself thinking of myself as old, too (I'm also closing in on 74).  I don't like it that my body is breaking down, that's for sure.  With Alzheimer's and vascular dementia on both sides of my family, I'm super alert for changes in my thinking.  When I do catch myself falling into "old fossil" patterns of thought I don't allow myself to dwell there.  

The good news is that I absolutely do know a lot through life experience and education.  If anyone shows interest in what I know, I freely share.  If they don't, then who cares.  The best part is that I can and do lavish all that knowledge on myself.  I confess to being happier today than any prior time in my life because I feel more empowered and less obligated to conform to others' expectations than any prior time in my life.  Maybe physically failing, but gloriously free to do what I want when I want how I want.  

But then, isn't that notion of self-empowerment and lack of obligation to conform to others' expectations a pretty basic characteristic of permies, anyway?
 
E.L. Dunn
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Yes, Lif, you have made a very good point.  I think it was Dire Straits that turned out a song with the lyric "clarity of age.."  I always liked that bit.  

I did not mean to come off as sounding sour or bitter, but being treated as a museum piece on a shelf gets annoying now and then.  But the freedom part and having a longer view of things is fun.  

The world is changing rapidly, and I have the luxury of not participating in a lot of the silliness.  

Thank you for your post..
 
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