*** July 2009 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Intentional Communities
· House Cleanout
· Disaster Ready Phones

Let freedom Ring

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An option for seniors and soon-to-be-seniors concerned about present or future living arrangements is "intentional community," or "cohousing." An "intentional community" is one in which people with a common purpose, consciously committed to living as a community, and in, for our definition, aging in place; however, the main ingredient in all intentional communities is the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services, in order to avoid the premature loss of independence, social isolation, and lack of needed services.

"Cohousing" refers to a type of collaborative housing that attempts to overcome the alienation of modern subdivisions in which no one knows his or her neighbor, and where there is no sense of community. The typical cohousing community has 20 to 30 units, privately owned single-family homes or apartments, arranged in such a way as to encourage interaction with neighbors. It often has a common house, workshops, shared gardens and a greenhouse, meeting and exercise rooms, and often a common kitchen and dining room where residents may choose to prepare and share meals. In many cases, more than one generation of a family will live in cohousing.INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES You'll find these types of housing in California, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, though they're spreading more widely across the country. Although most intentional communities are located on their own land, the most famous exception is Beacon Hill Village, which was founded in 2001 and is located in Boston. This "community" for persons over 50 living at home serves not only the Beacon Hill area, but also Charlestown, the Waterfront, and the West, South, and North ends of the city. For a membership fee, it provides community wellness classes and other scheduled social and educational events, regular trips to grocery stores (yes, including Trader Joe's) and rides to medical appointments. The office can also hook you up with a vetted person to walk your dog, deliver your dinner, fix your computer, hang that crooked picture, fix your leaky faucet, or provide Medicare or tax information. You can read more about Beacon Hill Village at If you have an interest in starting your own "village" (and at least 3,000 organizations do), BHV has initiated a "Village to Village Network." Based on requests they've received, they plan to offer member Villages most of the following: (1) A real person (a "buddy") at another organized Village who has experienced what you are doing and is willing and available to councel you; (2) templates for incorporating, filing for tax-exempt status, recruiting members, etc.; (3) online software tools for member management, bookkeeping, building your own web site, etc.; (4) printable materials that can be customized to your Village; (5) chat rooms, webinars, blogs, and the like, to share experiences; and (6) group discounts that they have been able to negotiate on goods and services for members. The new website for all this material is The Village to Village Network is a collaboration between Beacon Hill Village and NCB Capital Impact.

Nyland Cohousing, outside Boulder, Colorado, is a good example of "cohousing." Begun in 1992, Nyland is composed of 42 units on 42 acres, so each residence has 1/42 of the say in determining issues that affect all the residents. This is a multi-generational community, and there are some small-to-almost-grown kids on the property. This particular community is a bit more committed to "living gently on the land" than some others, so don't expect silk curtains and a golf course here. Nyland also has common rooms and a kitchen where residents take about three meals a week. It also boasts adult-only evenings where alcohol is served and kids are specifically not invited. Check out Nyland's website at

A caveat: These two types of senior housing, though usually less expensive than "formal" senior housing, are generally for those of us who live with friends or family, or who want to make new friends to be with throughout our elder years. They are more "cuddly," and may afford a little less privacy than one may be used to. It's a trade-off-community or cohousing = more independence and the possibility of new friendships, versus traditional senior living = more privacy and formal living arrangements.

It's another choice, folks.

For more information on intentional communities and cohousing, see "intentional community," "cohousing," and "senior communities" on the Web.

Find related information for seniors about Aging in Place at

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This is the second article in a series that will appear over the following months.

You've seen the horror on TV: The sad views of "a hermit's place" on salacious local news broadcasts. People say "never in my life." Well, since we all get elderly, guess again.

It happens all the time. Perhaps a senior has limited family in the area, is served by Meals-on-Wheels, and is a recluse. One day they don't open the door for the nice lady who brings lunch and the police are summoned…and you know the rest. The trash got too heavy, so the papers got stacked by the back door instead of taken out. The envelopes were too many to sort so they got stacked until there was "time" to open them and now they cover every horizontal surface in the home. It may be very dusty, and dirty because shut-ins can lose perspective (and the will to clean; it seems overwhelming!). You get to go through every shred of it and decide what to toss, save, and what to examine later.

Begin With The Mail

Begin With The Mail
The danger here is not in throwing away a memory. The danger is in throwing away documents that lead to an estate, constitute an estate, or represent assets of the estate. If your relative had a bond mature, the notice comes in the postal mail…and looks non-descript, like all the junk mail-except that such a notice represents thousands of dollars waiting to be claimed. Gather, open, and sort everything no matter how long it takes. You may want to take the envelopes home to open and sort them. Open all the windows in the home and air it out so you aren't subject to a musty room while you work, and as soon as you've gathered all the envelopes and cleared away a room, send in the vacuum cleaner.

Office Files
A retired businessperson's home office will often have much more than current business items stored in its cabinets. Look for old envelopes that may evidence a forgotten account number-it happens all the time, and you'll be able to follow up the lead. Insurance policies are often forgotten, and may have slim documentation. Be aware of any type of life insurance company mail, and follow up. Offices are also where memories are sometimes stored, so look for beloved pictures and other family heirlooms you'll want to preserve, as well. Don't be surprised if you see documents with names on them you don't recognize. Gather them and follow up. The last generation knew how to keep business to themselves when it wanted to.

Other things to look for leading to estate assets include: keys (especially to safe deposit boxes), lock combinations, donation letters, and old address/phone records. You get the idea.

Check the Closets
Seniors, like anyone else, sometimes forget what is in a coat pocket. And, like anyone else, they may put an important document into a pocket and forget it. Check the clothing-even the items in dry-cleaning bags-before donating, or if "vintage," selling. (Some old 1950's dresses and suits can bring a nice price in today's vintage clothing craze.)

Hire Someone to Clean The Kitchen and Bathrooms
Anyone can clean a kitchen, or a bathroom-and you are needed to sort out the mail and important documents, old files, and junk in file cabinets and closets. Plus, cleaning the kitchen of a sick or deceased loved one is no fun at all because so many memories are made and found in the kitchen. It's often a mess with shut-in people. Part of why someone can become shut-in in the first place is his or her embarrassment in their surroundings after they physically cannot keep up with the cleaning. Hire a maid service and have them go from ceiling to baseboards. It saves time, stress, and is worth the money spent.

Attacking the Garage
Be careful. You might want to use a "spider bomb" if it is a musty old space before you start moving boxes and such around in there. You may find memories, old tools, collectibles, and junk. Remember, "safety first": If there is gasoline stored in the garage get rid of it first, and don't put it in a car unless you want to gum up the gas line (it's "dead gas"). You'll have to call your city government and find their toxic waste recycling facility. Do likewise with old paint, solvents, and the like. Do not let them sit in the sun, while you clean, either. Sell the old tools-they're also "vintage" now. Try Craig's List or eBay. You'll know what to do with the rest of it…toss as much of the old stuff as you can. If you find vinyl records they can be sold if they are in good shape, without scratches. Beat-up vinyl doesn't sell to the collectors that hunt it. Comics, old magazines, old advertisements-these things are considered "ephemera" to collectors but it may not be worth your time to hassle with it all. If it's really old, then perhaps you'll keep it.

Cleaning out an estate is a hard job, and a very important one. If your loved one is still alive, he or she is going to need those assets you find for their care. So don't worry too much about invading privacy, and if you do find an old ghost be sure and consider if bringing it up is a good idea before you do so. It was meant to remain a secret if you don't already know, so honor those intentions. Once you've cleaned out an estate you'll be thinking about renting it, selling it, and other options, too. Let's just get the cleaning done for now and get past it. If everyone affected pitches in to help it can be a bonding experience for the family, and a whole lot easier to accomplish.

Find topic related books at:

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1. Disaster-Ready Phones
Unfortunately, as we move into the summer season various natural disasters cannot be far behind. When such an event occurs, your phones are key elements for your survival and recovery. Here are a few tips to assure you get the most help from these electronics.

  1. Your cell phone provides you a high degree of mobility. However, it does need to be charged or connected to a power source.
    • Keep your cell phones fully charged;
    • Have some extra batteries on hand;
    • Know where your car adapter is so you can recharge from the car battery;
    • Assure phones batteries are kept in a cool place, in a waterproof container or plastic bag;
    • If evacuation is necessary, forward your landline to your call phone.
  2. Use your phone memory storage to its fullest. Load in numbers for friends, emergency, services, relatives, and insurance contacts.
  3. Remember that landlines may work when your cell network is down. Of course, landlines are subject to their own issues. Wind and rain may disrupt their service. Be prepared to use both your cell phone and your landline.
  4. In a disaster, the phone line will get tied up. Since the phone companies have a higher capacity for text messages, using these as your communications method may be an advantage.

See the Disaster Supply Checklist and supplies at


2. Motor Coaches to Bring Services Closer to Veterans
A fleet of 50 new mobile counseling centers for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vet Center program has been put into service. Each vehicle will be assigned to one of VA's existing Vet Centers, enabling the center to improve access to counseling by bringing services closer to veterans. The 38-foot motor coaches, which have spaces for confidential counseling, will carry Vet Center counselors and outreach workers to events and activities to reach veterans in broad geographic areas, supplementing VA's 232 current Vet Centers, which are scheduled to increase to 271 facilities by the end of 2009.

Vet Centers, operated by the VA's Readjustment Counseling Service, provide non-medical readjustment counseling in easily accessible, consumer-oriented facilities, addressing the social and economic dimensions of post-war needs. This includes psychological counseling for traumatic military-related experiences and family counseling when needed for the veteran's readjustment.

Additional health information may be found at:

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Bill Haley - "The music is the main thing and it's just as easy to write acceptable words."

Dalai Lama - "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."

Della Reese - "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may be for us and it may not."

Doc Severinsen - "Music and the arts are not just something to make people feel good. They elevate the soul and broaden the entire personality."

Sylvester Stallone - "I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat."

More "Thoughts" at: and get some music at

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1. Looking to Work From Home?
Here's your opportunity. Visit and find telecommuting resources to help you work from home as a freelance business. The site is completely free of commercial advertising. It includes an active job bank, an online guidebook with hundreds of tips and techniques that improve success rates, as well as email update reports and an optional informative newsletter. This structure ensures quality information content and numerous job opportunities.

Additional information on Positive Aging may be found at:

2. Stop Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is one of America's deadliest problems. In 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. There were 12,998 people who were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Too many people still fail to understand that alcohol and driving don't mix. Impaired driving is no accident-nor is it a victimless crime.

Officers will be out in full force during the Fourth of July holiday period, cracking down on drunk drivers with an aggressive enforcement blitz.

Much of the tragedy from drunk driving can be prevented with a few simple precautions before going out to celebrate:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
  • Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
  • If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
  • Use your community's Sober Rides program;
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement; -And remember, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired or to ride with a drunk driver, take the driver's keys and help them all make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

To learn how to provide grassroots support for impaired-driving law enforcement crackdown efforts visit:

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Why, Why, Why

  • Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
  • Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
  • Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
  • Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
  • Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?


It Takes Teamwork
Two young women were working for the city's public works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind her and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one woman digging a hole, the other filling it in again.

An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole digger, "I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting into your work, but I don't get it-why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?"

The hole-digger wiped her brow and sighed, "Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we're normally a three-person team. But today the lady who plants the trees called in sick.

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2009, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

This Copyright E-zine may be forwarded to others only if sent in its entirety. Other uses are subject to written permission of the publisher.

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