My mother was in her early 70s when we gathered as a family to discuss her long-term housing needs. She had just sold her house and had no desire to rattle around in another big house or live by herself in a small apartment.
After much searching, we found a wonderful Assisted Living Home for her where she lives in a studio within a large complex with her own kitchen and bathroom. My mother has always loved cooking and the idea of someone cooking for her was not an option at this stage.
My mother is very social so this setup allowed her to have a community around her but she still maintained her independence and privacy if she wanted it.
My mother was adamant that she would never live in an Aged Care facility and with all the negative press they get, my siblings and I did not want that for her either.
Although I accept that Aged Care facilities may be the only choice for some of our parents, there are many reasons why our elders may want to avoid spending the remaining years there. Here are a few reasons.
1. Loss of independence: Moving into an aged care facility often means giving up a certain level of independence. Residents may have to follow strict schedules and routines, and their personal choices and preferences may be limited.
2. Lack of privacy: Living in a communal setting can result in a loss of privacy. Residents may have to share rooms or bathrooms with others, and their personal space may be limited.
3. Limited social interaction: While aged care facilities provide opportunities for socialisation, some residents may feel isolated or lonely. The lack of regular interaction with family and friends can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
4. Cost: Aged care facilities can be expensive, and the cost may not be fully covered by government subsidies or pensions. This can put a financial strain on individuals or their families.
5. Staffing issues: Some aged care facilities may face challenges in maintaining adequate staffing levels. This can result in a lack of personalised care and attention for residents, leading to dissatisfaction and potential health and safety concerns.
6. Quality of care: While many aged care facilities provide high-quality care, there have been instances of neglect, abuse, and substandard care in some facilities. This can be a significant disadvantage for residents who rely on the facility for their daily needs.
7. Limited choice and control: Residents may have limited say in decisions regarding their daily routines, meals, and activities. This lack of control can lead to frustration and a feeling of being disempowered.
8. Adjusting to a new environment: Moving into an aged care facility can be a significant adjustment, especially for people who have lived independently for most of their lives. The change in routine, environment, and social dynamics can be challenging and stressful.
9. Lack of familiarity: Aged care facilities may not be located in the same neighborhood or community where the resident has lived for many years. This can result in a loss of familiarity and a sense of disconnection from one's previous social networks and support systems.
10. Waiting lists: Due to the high demand for aged care facilities, there can be long waiting lists for admission. This can delay access to necessary care and support for individuals in need.
I have a vision of creating a Silver Sirens village nestled in the middle of nature where we live in small cabins with all the amenities for comfortable final years or decades. The village will staffed by compassionate and professional staff and I will be surrounded by my friends and other like-minded seniors.
During the research for this piece, I discovered that my vision actually exists and is called a Co-Housing Community.
We are living at a time when we can be intentional about what our remaining years could look like. We can throw out any outdated models that do not work for us and create a brand-new one.