President and C.E.O., Care Family of Indiana, Inc.

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to develop low-cost supportive housing to meet the needs of the elderly and adults with special needs.

Our country and many of the other post-industrial (western) countries have rapidly aging populations and rapidly declining birth rates. We have also watched the family system break down. We have gone from extended families (multi-generational family members living together) to nuclear families (parents and their children) to single parents or some mixture of singe adults and children sharing household duties.
When seniors or adults with special needs need more help than can be provided in their family setting, the current mental health /social service system is inadequate to care for them. Younger adults are incarcerated and are institutionalized in nursing homes. Older adults without funds are put in nursing homes. The few elderly with sufficient means can purchase private residential supportive care for $7500+ a month.
As the extended family tradition of care-taking continues to erode, we have developed a "fee-for-service" model of care-taking to try and replace it. What we have created is both very expensive while providing substandard care when compared to care-taking provided by family members.
We need to develop extended family units based on need and not blood and live in low-cost rental units. This type of community provides low-cost housing and gives the "clients" the ability to manage their own communities within broad limits set by the extended family units themselves
This type of low-cost supportive housing has been in use for over 50 years in more than 25 states with a wide variety of adult populations who could not live on their own.

  • May 27 2013: Yes, because we need multi-generational living arrangements to generate the skills and the energy and the creativitu necessary to keep the community going.
  • May 27 2013: Dear Lamar, To quote a famous passage from a movie, "If we build it they will come." What we are talking about is building low-cost affordable communities that allow people to choose to become part of a "family" with others who want to be in community. It's "assisted living" only we do the "assisted living. Instead of $8,000 per month, we spend $800 per month!
  • May 26 2013: Before my answer to your question, let us first look at the recent development in automation and robotics. There are 2 major areas which are going to affect the employment of manufacturing workers and the improvement of the robotics in the healthcare and other human services, especially for the elderly. The former will cause more unemployment among the employable working population and the latter would benefit the living care of the elderly. So I would like to propose a plan to at least partially resolve the 2 problems simultaneously.
    We should, with co-op from the community and house builders, build blocks of multilevel condominiums with many automatic conveyors, some with wheelchairs and hospital style beds as well as inter-com equipments in one wing on each floor of the condominium for the elderly. The opposite wing is for the adult residents with their families including children. The families will pay relatively low rent, and also members could be paid for their services as the floor mangers or other services in taking care of the elderly in the other wing. Because of the automation and robotics serving the elderly, heavy lifting, etc. are not needed, so that even teenagers could serve after a few hours of training. The condominium also have automated food and laundry services, so that the elderly will only need kind and compassionate care. therefore it is really a win-win situation, especially between the elderly and the young when they treat each other as adopted grandchildren and grandparents. because either side will usually enjoy the others' companionship as long as they are not "chained together" all the time. The elderly will pay certain rent and fees if they can afford to. The entire project would be non-profit, with some subsidies from the government.
    You can see that this arrangement could alleviate multiple difficulties for both the elderly and the other families in their financial, convenience, environment atmosphere and emotional well-beings.
  • May 27 2013: The "Fairweather model" recapitulates extended family living. By matching people's residents needs with other residents abilities (the older residents can "watch" the young children and the adults can help the older adults to do chores that they could not do without help. The selection of membership in each "lodge" after the initial selection of the group is made by the lodge group. Since the residents live in apartments, costs can be moderated by the group taking on tasks that would normally be done by the apartment "staff" (housekeeping, ground care, etc.). Local communities could seet up these lodge communities as not for profits with support from state and local AARP, ARC, and other advocacy groups.
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    May 26 2013: Are you suggesting a co-housing type model that depends on the seniors to make all the relevant management and service decisions together or do you envision a housing arrangement with levels of assistance and support that adjust for the needs of the population? When co-housing communities are established, are there any requirements that a member must meet to be accepted? For example, in a cohousing community, will or must the community accept a new member with Alzheimers or serious medical issues?

    What have you seen over the fifty years of experience you note in twenty five states?

    I know a couple of sixty-year-olds who live in co-housing communities in my city, but they are both entirely able-bodied.
  • May 26 2013: This work will revolutionize how we care for the elderly and our special needs adults!
  • May 26 2013: I have written numerous articles and designed various communities for this model. It is based on the work of George Fairweather and his "small group/lodge model".