Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Faith-based communities are available to seniors, but with more rules


The Health Section (F) of the Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008 Washington Post is titled “Aging Well.” A banner underneath says the percentage of the population 65 and older will increase from 12.4% in 2000 to 19.6% in 2030. But the section talks about keeping independence.

A couple of stories really do catch the eye.

A story by Benjamin Opipari, “Fast Mom Faster” tells about a 30 year old man who trains his 60 year old mother to become a competitive runner.

But the most interesting story from my perspective was by Emily Langer, “Home but Not Alone”. This concerned a senior residential community called ElderSpirit in Abington VA. The link, with online slideshow, is here.

The mixed ownership and rental community had an origin with a group of Catholic nuns after World War II. What’s interesting is the rules. Some of them sound familiar. Each residential unit must have an independent person over 55 and no one under 40. But what’s interesting are these provisions: “Residents should be committed to following the ‘values’ spirituality, mutual support, service, simple lifestyle,…” and “Residents must not pose excessive risk to themselves or to others.”

It’s understandable that a faith-based group will be more selective about who lives in a community and the behaviors allowed than the general commercial market. I don’t know what the “excessive risk” refers to, but it might include Internet self-promotion, which sounds like a disturbing precedent. The values of the people who live there are quite communal, according to the report.

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