Last week I asked subscribers to add their opinions about what, in the context of Assisted Living, makes a place feel like home. The basics, according to these readers, include:
Pets and doors that lock and books and good coffee inside and good friends outside. (Heidi Hadsell)
My mother-in-law is in an assisted living place…a lot like Jessie’s imaginary place! I would gladly go to this place in my senior years! (Jane Maher-Dudgeon)
Absolutely my pets! Lots of windows overlooking deciduous trees and walking paths. Privacy when I wanted and not to be questioned if I didn’t. Have conversations that are silly and also serious about what I believe and am I scared of dying (must haves). And if I can’t have this, then I hope someone has developed incredible holograms that will let me feel as if I do have all this! (Linda Beck-Kuban)
In his new book, Being Mortal, Dr. Atul Gawande describes the kinds of assistance available to people who can no longer live independently. In a chapter called “Hard Conversations,” Gawande recounts a grass-roots effort in his home town of Athens, Ohio, a place with few big-city resources, to create support for aging and/or disabled people who wanted to stay in their homes. Margaret Cohn, a retired biologist who needed help caring for her seriously ill husband, got a group of friends together, then enlisted 100 people to pay four hundred dollars per year for essential services. The Athens Village (named after Beacon Hill Village, a predecessor program in Boston) eventually provided discounted nursing assistance, a full-time handyman/maintenance man, volunteers to check up on people who needed food or help, daily van service and Meals-on-Wheels. Everyone was able to stay at home, with the help they needed, at an affordable price. They found a way to turn Home into Assisted Living Home.