Hard work continues as we work to move forward with expansion plans! Imagination and passion keep us going! I find myself nearly homesick for TIIN living in the complete model!
Community minded people coming together with the intention of getting to know each other in a real way absolutely thrills me. Enjoying other’s thoughts and talents is always fun and enlightening. Problem solving with mixed age groups is an amazing experience that I already enjoy in our Adult Family Home. I find that the thought of having even more neighbors willing to give time each week to help each other comforts me. Community life among diverse ages and backgrounds is sometimes hard work–but it is the kind of hard work that helps us expand our understanding of what it is to be a loving human who is a small but important part of the amazing world we live in!
Our world is full of beautiful places and moments, and it is full of the opposite as well. It is
always wonderful to come together to celebrate and enjoy fun times together. Yet I believe that when we come together during hard times, to create beauty and safety in the midst of hard realities–that is when we have truly lived in community. Hard times shared make beautiful times shared all the more beautiful!
At Hope & A Future we have had some recent changes in our household. Each time we have a change in who lives with us, we become a slightly new kind of community. Our Family Of Friends seems to be a sort of living organism. Each new person brings with them new joys and new challenges. We meet their friends and family and they become our friends and family too. Together we problem solve, hear new stories and have new kinds of fun together. Community life is interesting, fun and challenging–never stagnant. The newness is part of what keeps people healthier and more engaged with life when they are in an intentional community.
I have read that our aging population is working hard to stay in their own homes as they age. I understand that desire, but it comes with concerns. Living more independently works as long as a person is able to drive and get around on their own. People are still interacting in meaningful ways. But there comes a point when frailty hits and living alone is not the healthiest option. The point of concern begins when loneliness is a regular part of a person’s day. Loneliness is a precursor to accelerated physical and mental frailty and it may come unexpectedly–with a pandemic, a health setback or after friends and family move away. When a person does not have a reason to get up and go in the morning–they sit more and their minds are not challenged. Frailty of mind and body begin to develop at an accelerated pace. The effect of loneliness on the body has been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes per day! Before loneliness hits, becoming an active part of an intentional community can be a great investment in a person’s health and well being. An intentional Community like the TIIN will not only keep people more active and engaged, it will also provide a safety net of support when a setback in social support or health comes along. The TIIN is designed to keep people active and engaged through sharing of gifts and talents yet also supported when challenging times come along. It provides just enough structure to allow people to live their own lives while also being supportive to and supported by their neighbors. This was the kind of 1950’s style neighborhood I started life in and the kind of community minded neighborhood I aim to end life in! Frankly, I think independence is vastly overrated! Interdependence is reality and it is healthy!
In addition to combating loneliness, our TIIN model does something important to relieve the growing caregiver workforce crisis. In my 40+ years in long term care, there has always been a problem with finding enough hands-on caregivers. The problem has grown and will continue to grow exponentially as the population ages. For a person proposing to stay in their own home even after becoming frail, it can become a matter of life and death when caregivers do not show up–or cannot be found to hire. Earlier this year the National Guard stepped in to help in local long term care settings–when they had to leave the short staffing problem returned. In the last year I heard of long term care settings calling 911 to see if staff could come give a hand in settings where there was not enough staff to meet basic needs. Many long term care settings are not admitting as many people as they have beds for because they do not have enough staff to care for them. When we consider the trend of more people staying in their independent homes after becoming frail it is easy to see that this stretches the already over extended workforce available. However, we know that 70% of the care frail seniors need in their homes can be accomplished by a willing family member or friend. Our TIIN model uses an internal time bank to coordinate helpful efforts of neighbors. This will help keep people in their condominium home longer because neighbors are helping each other and the neighborhood nurse will be available to help set up the needed support systems.
If down the road, more care is needed in the person’s home than the neighborhood can provide, people will be able to move into the neighborhood Adult Family Home–where we now provide care for people of Advance Age and Developmental Disabilities. This offers the opportunity to age in community–where people you have come to know and love are there to care for and visit you. All of this support is available in a vibrant intergenerational setting where young and old help each other flourish.
I have been talking with more people about our model recently–again and again people say to me, “This needs to happen across the country!” I agree. But our first challenge is to get the first complete Therapeutic, Interactive, Intergenerational Neighborhood (TIIN) built. From there, replication will be our goal! This is a model that takes loving our neighbors seriously!
Please be in touch if you have any questions or are interested in getting involved!
Until then, enjoy beautiful summer days!