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ashby village, next steps

by Charlie Schad, member of the Hamlet Neighborhood Group

“I want to stay in my house but I worry about what would happen if I had a bad fall or other unexpected health issue.  My kids don’t live nearby and they are busy taking care of their own families.  Who would help me if I couldn’t do it all myself?”  Or, “I feel isolated and need more social contact and more interesting activities.”  

Ashby Village provides many resources and services to support independent living, but each person still has to assess their own situation and take actions to prepare for the future.  It is better to do what you can in advance than wait until you have an emergency and not be able to make or carry out decisions on your own. 

In Jan. 2017, several members of the Thousand Oaks Hamlet formed an interest group, NEXT STEPS, to consider these issues.  Everyone in the group wanted to stay in their own home, but there were many questions, including: how to make our houses safer; how to build a support network of friends and neighbors; what about bringing in a roommate/renter; how to find the best service-providers for in-home care, home maintenance, or paying bills; how to find the right re-hab facility in the event of a short term medical problem (if you don’t have a list of acceptable places and someone to stand up for you, the hospital will make the decision and it probably won’t be the best one for you).  

We also looked at the alternative to staying in our own homes, i.e. moving to some kind of senior/care residence, and again, there were many questions.  What kind of a place and what would it cost?  CCRC’s (Continuing Care Retirement Community) provide Independent/Assisted Living/Skilled Nursing and Memory Care all in the same facility, and they provide a lifetime guarantee once your are accepted.  But they are costly and require a hefty up-front “entry-fee”.  Other facilities may be less expensive but are only month-to-month - you run out of money and you are out.  Other questions: where would we fit in socially; which places provide better care; what are the tax implications of selling our house; how many of our special possessions could we bring to a new place and how can I get rid of the rest, the stuff our kids don’t want?  The decision to stay or move can be very difficult for many of us, and it may take years to get into some places (e.g. affordable senior housing), so it is important to look at the options early, even if you decide not to move.   

Our group met monthly and had presentations by professionals/experts on senior law, fiduciary and tax issues, in-home care, (including AV Care Coordinator, Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle), and how to modify your home for disabilities.  A panel of four women (ave. age 90+) shared their experiences and insights on aging in place vs. moving.  Senior housing experts talked to us about the various options and we visited several facilities in the area.  We are currently working on how to rent a room in our house, including how to select a compatible person and how to avoid eviction problems if it is not working out.  

We are not done, but it has been a very worthwhile process and we would like to share some of our learnings with interested Ashby Village members.  And, encourage other groups to form.  A meeting has been scheduled at the AV offices on Thurs. July 19 from 2 - 4:30.  All of our group will be there to present and answer questions.  We will have informational handouts and will also talk about the group process, what worked and what didn’t.  One thing for sure.  These questions are difficult and can be a little scary, but we got better answers and found mutual support by working on them in together a dedicated, caring group. 

One of our members moved into a CCRC earlier this year.  She said, “I wouldn’t have been able to make this decision without the group and all the questions and concerns that were raised.”   

What questions and concerns do you have?