Golden Girls Go Home: A Twin Cities organization touts the affordability — and fun — of shared housing arrangements

  While searching for more information about Golden Girls homes as a housing option, I came across this article about a Minneapolis organization that helps older single/divorced/widowed women find or create affordable shared housing.  Seems like something that would benefit “women of a certain age” from coast-to-coast, and not dissimilar to what Michele Fiasca is trying to do locally with her website “Let’s Share Housing Together.”

Anyway, here is the article for you to enjoy and hopefully be inspired by:

“The ’80s TV sitcom The Golden Girls  gave Connie Skillingstad a good idea: older women who live together. Skillingstad is founder of Golden Girl Homes, a group that helps older widows, divorcees, and otherwise single women find or create alternative, affordable shared housing.

‘Golden Girls is about helping open up the options for women,’ says Skillingstad.  Formed in 2001, the Twin Cities-based nonprofit is based on the  premise that older women want, need, and deserve more diverse housing options than senior housing facilities or solitary living. For many women it is not financially feasible to purchase and maintain a house on their own, and single living may leave them feeling lonely and disconnected.

‘A lot of women are interested in living in communities,’ says Skillingstad, a 59-year-old social worker. ‘The senior housing that’s being built by developers is too expensive, and many women don’t want to live in a senior housing complex.’

The Golden Girls solution is not so much matching up potential roommates as it is helping with the logistics of shared housing. To this end, the group, which includes about 200 women whose ages range from 40 into the 80s, meets monthly to discuss everything from the legal issues of these new-style households to the practicalities of living with people other than family. They are currently working to create a list of questions that potential roommates can ask each other to gauge their compatibility.”

via Golden Girls Go Home.

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The new Administration for Community Living

“All Americans – including people with disabilities and seniors – should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions. To help meet these needs, HHS is creating a new organization, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) with the goal of increasing access to community supports and full participation, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities.

The ACL will include the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in a single agency, with enhanced policy and program support for both cross-cutting initiatives and efforts focused on the unique needs of individual groups such as children with developmental disabilities, adults with physical disabilities, or seniors, including seniors with Alzheimers.”

via Home | ACL.

At first glance, the announcement of a new government agency by the Department of Health and Human Services focused specifically on enabling seniors and those with disabilities to “live at home with the supports they need” should be good news to the village movement and all those who want to age-in-place and continue to live in community.  And it may yet turn out to be, though enough details about the ACL are not available to know whether it’s going to be a real help and a potential source of funding and support for village efforts or just another set of initials in the bureaucracy.

If you know any more about the ACL than I do, please share!

Press Release: VillagePDX.org Launches Aging-in-Place Village Movement in Portland

It Takes a Village:  VillagePDX.org Launches Aging-in-Place Village Movement in Portland

Portland,OR, March, 2012 –

A recent AARP survey found the 86% percent of respondents aged 45 and older hope to stay in their current residence as long as possible. However, many seniors are faced with the prospect of having to leave their homes as they age because they lack an adequate system of support to enable them to stay where they are.

A little over a decade ago, residents of the Boston Beacon Hill neighborhood began looking for a way to address this specific problem.  And, in 2002, Beacon HillVillage, the first aging-in-place village, was born.

“The Beacon Hill Village founders all wanted to remain at home, even after transportation and household chores became difficult or dangerous, the point at which many older people quit familiar surroundings. They also wanted to avoid dependence on adult children. And they were unwilling to be herded by developers into cookie-cutter senior housing, and told what to do and when to do it by social workers half their age.” –NY Times, February 9, 2009

“We wanted everything you’d find in a retirement community or assisted living—but we wanted these services in our own homes,” explains Susan McWhinney-Morse, 72, the president of Beacon HillVillage, who was one of the 12 residents who helped create it. “We didn’t want to leave the neighborhood we love.”  from the AARP Bulletin, “Declaration of Independents”, December 2005

So what exactly is an aging-in-place village?  A village is a group of like-minded people in a neighborhood cluster who come together to figure out and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes. These might include transportation, recreational activities, home repairs, discounted professional and group purchases, health and wellness programs, volunteer opportunities and more, all depending on the needs and interests of the community members who co-create the village. Continue reading

Small Bathroom Remodel Brings Big ‘Aging in Place’ Benefits to Portland Home

Check it out! I recently stumbled upon this article about remodeling a very small  Portland-area bathroom in order to make the owner’s house aging-friendly.  It’s great to know even a tiny space can be creatively adapted and made to work.

A 3′ by 3′ space can make or break a home’s suitability for aging in place.  That’s the lesson that Hammer & Hand project manager Alex Daisley came away with after performing what is surely the Portland remodeling contractor’s tiniest small bathroom remodel to date.

via Small Bathroom Remodel Brings Big ‘Aging in Place’ Benefits to Portland Home.

Benefits of Senior Homesharing

Interesting article on Senior Homesharing from Nolo.com.

“Homesharing can be a good choice for roommates of any age, but there are benefits for seniors that make the arrangement particularly attractive, including:

  • Independence. In many cases, having a housemate enables a senior to avoid or postpone the move to an assisted living facility. However, because potential housemates are not dedicated caregivers, senior home providers wishing to participate in these programs should be in relatively good health.
  • Rental income. An additional monthly income can help seniors on a fixed income make ends meet. Rent, if any, is negotiated between home provider and home seeker.
  • Household help. Home providers who need help with cooking, laundry, gardening, and other routine chores can choose to reduce the rent or provide housing free in exchange for a certain number of hours of assistance.
  • Transportation. Seniors who can no longer drive can request that the assistance their housemate provides includes transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, and other places they need to go.
  • Safety. A housemate offers a measure of safety for an older person who might fall or might not react quickly in an emergency.
  • Companionship. For many seniors, someone to interact with on a daily basis is more valuable than the rental income or services they receive.
  • Peace of mind. A housemate can provide peace of mind to the senior and his or her family and friends, who may worry about their elderly loved one living alone.
I think there is a local company that matches senior roommates, but can’t remember their name.  If you know about it, please write and refresh my memory!

“How Baby Boomers doomed the exurbs”

There is an interesting article that appeared today in Grist.  The gist of it is that Baby Boomers—–along with their children The Millenials—–are largely responsible for the decline of the suburbs, and that the future of the country is urban and walkable.

“Many boomers are now empty nesters and approaching retirement. Generally this means that they will downsize their housing in the near future. Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.”

Obviously, crediting the Boomers with the demise of the suburbs is an oversimplification. There are many reasons the suburbs are in decline, and I am not going to go into them here.  What is worth noting is the survey finding that “Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town.” In other words, in a place with easy, walkable access to a full range of services and amenities.

“Demographers are seeing more older Americans moving, or contemplating moving, into cities and suburban town centers. Rather than being saddled with a house requiring nonstop upkeep or feeling isolated in the burbs, they’re within walking distance of shops, entertainment and public transportation. So their ability or desire to drive is not a big deal.”   (from “Boomers Redefine Retirement Living”)

For those of us who already live in a walkable urban setting with ready access to services & transportation, the desire to find a way to age-in-place (ie. in our own homes), rather than be forced into some institutional retirement community, is overwhelming.   So it makes sense to invest the time and energy to create a Beacon Hill style village  for our own neighborhood so that it will be available by the time we need it.