The Elephant in the Common Room: Old and In the Way (Breakout Session)

Presented by Janice Blanchard, President, Aging Better Together
Ann Zabaldo, Board of Directors, Mid Atlantic Cohousing

Session Description

“Old and in the way, that's what I heard them say
They used to heed the words he said, but that was yesterday
Gold will turn to gray and youth will fade away
They'll never care about you, call you old and in the way.”
– David Grisman, “Old & in the Way”

Senior cohousing is a pioneering model of “aging in community”-- a grassroots movement of like-minded citizens who come together to create systems of mutual support and caring in order to enhance health and well-being, improve quality of life, and maximize our ability to remain at home and meaningfully connected to our communities until the day we die.

Where the rubber hits the road with these noble goals is when we move beyond the glow of “active, vibrant aging” and into the shadows of our “twilight years.” At this life stage our care needs often become greater, more personal and ongoing until we die. Statistically, 70% of Americans 65 and older today will need an average of 3 years of long-term care assistance. If we are to create a viable alternative to the current options we must address the elephant in the common room: How will we provide for long-term care?

This session provides an overview of how senior cohousing currently is meeting – and falling short – of the goals of aging in community, followed by a facilitated discussion with attendees in exploring the challenges and opportunities in creating a viable alternative to other long-term care options.

Two follow-up sessions at the conference will provide: 1) a review of promising practices, strategic partnerships and other resources that can enhance the capacity of communities to provide long-term care within cohousing, and 2) a “collaboratory café” that draws on participants’ lifetime skills and wisdom, as well as their knowledge learned throughout the conference to create new strategies to close the care-gaps in their community. Participants will also be eligible to continue their learning in a “community of practice” centered on creating, testing and expanding the care options for aging in community.

About the Presenter/s

Janice Blanchard, MSPH, is a gerontologist who is passionate about promoting a new paradigm of aging that values elders for their wisdom, experience and as vital members of their community. Distinguished for her seminal work in developing the concept and practice of Aging in Community, Blanchard is a contributing author and editor of the book, Aging in Community (2013) and a nationally sought after speaker, author and consultant on this and other aging issues. Her career in aging has spanned across the country and globe, for such diverse organizations as the University of Western Sydney, the Older Women’s Network, the National Governor’s Association Policy Academy and the National Center for Creative Aging.

Ann Zabaldo is both a pioneer volunteer and a paid professional in the cohousing movement. She specializes in outreach education, marketing, and fueling the fires of burning souls. Past president Coho/US; Board of Directors, Mid Atlantic Cohousing; founding member and resident Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington, DC.

Additional Information

"The Elephant in the Common Room" is the first of three in a series.
While all three are designed to stand alone, their full power is realized in attending all three:
#1 - The Elephant in the Common Room: Old and in the Way
#2 - The Elephant Never Forgets: The Power of the Herd
#3 - The Elephant’s Graveyard: Bringing the Old Bones Home