Each stage of life brings with it a new set of challenges and pleasures. When we are young, we marvel at the ant making its trek across the sidewalk, and are challenged with tying our shoes. Our world is smaller, and basic needs like hunger, physical comfort and sleep govern our motivations.
As we age and grow, our lens widens and if basic needs are met, we look to grow, learn, and love. When we reach retirement age and beyond, we hope that we’ll have the love of family around us, opportunities to travel and explore, and solid relationships with others.
In the next decade, 7.8 million Americans aged 75 and up won’t be able to afford assisted living, and without the basic need for safe, affordable housing, we could be looking at somewhat of a breakdown in communities. At a time when older adults could be sharing stores of knowledge and experiences, and exploring how their experiences could help others, their motivations will focus on satisfying a basic need of appropriate shelter, leaving a wealth of knowledge and life’s work on the table to grow stale.
The Garden Spot Village, Cooperative Living Home, “Thistledown” project, is a concept which aims to combat both the need for affordable housing, and the loneliness and depression older adults can face in isolation. The house offers a month-to-month lease with a sliding scale rent, based on a percentage of resident’s income. Each member of the household has their own bedroom and bathroom and share common living spaces.
Vida Beiler, 77, is a resident at Thistledown. She is an avid crocheter, with a sweet smile and gentle countenance. The ability to have her basic needs met at Thistledown, allows her to use her time and motivations to grow spiritually through group Bible studies, and give back through donating her exquisite crochet in the forms of blankets to bless others. Esther Courtney, 70, also a Thistledown resident, is an avid volunteer in the laundry facility of the Garden Spot Village community.
“Esther has a great attitude and is a delight to be around,” comments Amanda Feeg, Volunteer Director Assistant.
The Cooperative Living Home, while an experiment in residential living for older adults, is one worth exploring and Garden Spot Village has plans for several additional homes. To learn how your organization might be part of the solution of this aging crisis in America, visit https://www.theforgeworks.org/resources/ for a field guide and blueprint of the project.
Steve Jeffrey is the Co-Founder/Guild Master of ForgeWorks and is passionate about building great foundations in people and non-profit organizations. His work is focused on innovation, strategy, affiliations and cultural alignment.