Friday, May 1, 2020

Word of the Year 2020: Build 5: It Takes a Village

Kazbegi, Caucasus Georgia. May 2012.

On Build thus far

Word of the Year 2020: Build 1: After the Floods
Word of the Year 2020: Build 2: Fronterista
Word of the Year 2020: Build 3: "House"
Word of the Year 2020: Build 4: Chosens

There comes a time when a solo woman observes that she might have to leave behind the cachet of a "woman of a certain age" and enter the land of a "woman of age."

"Not today," she says to herself. But it's coming some day, not too far away, because from her ship's deck, she can just make out the shoreline, and her boat inexorably inches closer to the beach.

In preparation for landing, she's got to consider aging issues.

I've talked about building a chosen family. A chosen family brings mutual intimacy, emotional sustenance, wise counsel from brains not our own, soft places to fall.

For practical, simple transactional needs that arise as singletons age, it's good to build a real-life or virtual home in a village.

Money Crashers offers a useful article on How to Plan for Old Age and Elder Care When You Don't Have Kids.

The advice isn't just for elders without kids - it's also for elders who have kids, but the grown kids:
  1. Live far away
  2. Already have care-giving obligations to others, such as special needs children or in-laws for whom they provide care
  3. Struggle with personal challenges
  4. Are well-intentioned and enthusiastic about being supportive, but just don't have the skill set their parents need
  5. Exploit their parents' finances or are emotionally/verbally/physically abusive
  6. Don't want a relationship with their parents

The article uses the term "elder orphan," a label with only sad, victim-y connotations that I don't believe are helpful. However, the advice in the article is solid.

Some highlights for what solo elders do to build a village around them:
  1. The Village to Village Network
  2. Work longer and save more to pay for future in-home care expenses that will help you stay in your own home
  3. Choose a supportive neighborhood (e.g. walkable to grocery store, library, park)
  4. Consider house-sharing or communal living
  5. Make new friends
  6. Wellness-tracking or wellness-alarm systems
  7. For folks who have the means: geriatric care manager

One of my daydreams is to buy a plot of land that is, literally, here:

In this daydream, I have one or two dogs to provide companionship and safety. I live in a tiny cabin. I might not have any internet access. I have water. I have this stunning view.

Although this might work for a year, realistically, I'm going to want to age in a town, in a walkable neighborhood, with internet, live music, diversity of age around me, a library, pocket parks.

I'll want a village.

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