Bernie Farmer wrote:
Building a community that cares for the elderly is a great dream. But then reality hits the fan. For me it came long before my mom presented me with a handful of her own poop and wanted to know what it was. I'm in multiple groups for caretakers and the one consistent thread among every one of those groups is that as soon as the work shows up, everyone leaves. Families are the first to abandon ship and the worst of the lot because not only do they not help in any capacity, they complain and condemn the one person who is doing all the work. They stand back and say "this is how it should be done" without having a clue what needs to be done. There is a LOT of talk, a lot of ideas, a lot of planning, a lot of research and information and promoting the cause. And meanwhile, the caretakers just have to get on with it.
Yes! Bless you, Bernie for what you do for your mom. And you are right, no village for the elderly is going to cut it, because the needs of those being cared for can be widely different.
Roberta, bravo! You are also commended on all the efforts you make to keep your health. I'm 60 and I'm probably not doing as much as I should in that regard as you are. But then, I'm trying to bit by bit renovate an old house, maintain 8 acres of property, and work as much as I can to supplement the family income. Fitting in a fitness routine is hard and there are some niggling health issues that for various reasons make it difficult too sometimes. My husband and I are trying to scramble to finish all the things that we need to do to make this property something that can sustain us. And we have to do it without any help from children. We will have to build some sort of retirement savings so that when we can no longer put in our own wood, we'll have to pay someone to do it for us.
A village for the elderly is a lovely idea and brings forth images from Currier and Ives, and if all of us were like Roberta, it would be lovely. However, there are things that can come along that don't happen due to a lack of health maintaining efforts. Family genetics, injury, circumstances and pure bad luck can grip any one of us at any age and leave us with a condition that will put us in a situation where caring for ourselves is difficult, no matter how much we did to 'stay healthy'. My parents were hearty people and despite the issues they DID have, the hospitals were always shocked that they weren't on a long list of medications. What took away their ability to care for themselves could not have been prevented by any lifestyle means. This is the scary part.
We have in the past suggested to other couples we know, when discussions of this sort come up, for them to build on our property and we would all share the work and the bounty. A small and limited village, if you will. Where each one does the duties that they are able enough for, share the property expenses and the bounty of the gardens, to help each other as we can. But no one seems to want to do that. So we just keep renovating and restoring and trying to turn this place into something that we can manage later when we are not as able. A steel roof so we never have to worry about roofing again. Augmenting the utility room downstairs so that in the future it can be our main bathroom; so that if we turn the dining room into a bedroom we can live on just the ground floor. Trying to figure out what we can do to change the cleared part of the property so that it doesn't take 4 hours of riding a mower. Letting it just go isn't an option because the taller grass brings ticks and mosquitoes like a biblical plague. Building a green house to winter garden in. The raised beds that are kinder to my back. And all of this takes a lot of funds to do so we have to take on as much paid work as we can to do it. But when you are busy working, you have the funds to purchase the supplies but where is the time to do the actual work? We recently purchased a large barn next door to use as a place where hubby can earn an income with vehicle storage and some auto repair work, as well as trying his hand at doing some electric conversions (older cars to electric). But the barn needs a bit of work...doors replaced, walls reinforced etc. He's out there every day by himself after a long day of working. There is no family here, and friends all seem to be 'too busy' to help. To hire help will cost us thousands. It's almost the same as the caregiver situation. Trying to get our vision in place before it's too late, while still working, is a challenge. And we constantly feel like we are racing against a clock. Some days when I'm not feeling my best, visions of my folks come back to me and I find myself gripped with a level of anxiety that nearly paralyzes me into hopelessness. Watching my parents suffer as much as they did in the end (I still sometimes get triggered into hearing mom's screams of 'please let me die') I consider at what point and under what condition would I take my own life, to avoid a miserable existence somewhere where I would be trapped an unable to control how I'm cared for. I want to live for as long as I can, close to nature where my soul is nourished, and I'm doing everything I can to put into place ways for me to do that. We are only just learning about permaculture....slowly...when we have time to research. If I could afford it I would take a course. I would love to create a food forest. I would love to have something that has a sort of ecosystem that maintains itself with a lot less effort. Six years ago when we moved to this land we had no experience with wells and septics and all the differences in lifestyle that come with country living. We were both born and raised urban/city. I'm trying to learn about canning and preserving, seed saving and all the various facets of sustainable living and I'm trying to do it while working for hours on a computer for pay, cleaning cottages, renovating a very old house, caring for animals and trying to contribute to my community helping others so that we aren't shunned as outsiders. And we do this not just because we want a healthier lifestyle (fresh organic food, living with nature) along with free water and sewage, but also a lifestyle that we can maintain and control for as long as we can. But permaculture is by its very nature, a lifestyle that requires ability both mental and physical. What to do when those abilities slip away? Sorry if I sound a bit like a Debbie Downer, but that's MY reality.