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Where is permaculture for the elderly?

 
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Quick addition: lots of people seem to die in their forties in Burkina Faso so I guess there are less people that actually reach old age... sad but true.
 
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I am planning to create a community for the 'elderly', called Centurion Village, in the next 5-6 years.  
As I age, I knew that I wanted to surround myself with like minded people rather than be thrown
into a conventional retirement home to 'waste' away.  I plan to go out sliding into home base.
I don't consider myself old and I am in great shape and very youthful - at least 40 years away
from the age my Grandmother died.  Hence why I am planning now for then.  So I can live
life how I choose and give back to the planet at the same time.  

Would love to hear other people's thoughts and ideas.
 
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My wife and I just bought a very rural place in West Virginia with a house on 50 acres. The nearest neighbor is 1 1/2 miles away. We are 71 and 66, but in reasonable shape. We offered our 37 yo next door neighbors renting here in PA (we're moving in the spring to WV) a dozen acres and thirty grand to live next to us in WV. Nope, won't do it. Too remote. So this is also a subject on our minds. It looks like the only option for us is to plug into a local church and hope for the best.    
 
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Nora Ewer, I just love that you asked this question, as I am going to be in that position at some point. I am 61 now, want to retire in June, and work part time at a very physical job and constantly busy...I am wearing out, not because of the work, but the stress of not doing what I want...Permaculture!
That is why I happened to find your post here...I was looking for it!


It would mean death for me to go into HUD housing..but that's what I am looking forward to if I don't find something "permie" to spend the rest of my life.
I have thought of doing this myself, a permie community, with other permies around my age, and I live in Pennsylvania. So further research might tell me what's out there, or here, if anyone knows of someone with land who might need a helping hand and space for me to have my own home.
It's more than unsettling to be facing retirement alone, with a permaculture dream, and having to start over.
Thanks for listening.
Margie
'
 
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Dolan Springs, AZ 86441
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I have completed 70 transits of the sun.  I am attempting to do permaculture on my 3.66 acres of open rangeland in Northern Arizona.

As of now, I am still living alone, but I find that my health is going to fail me before I can do all the work that is needed.

I enjoy the solitude (8 miles off the paved road, 38 miles from a real grocery store). I am completely off grid, except for water and fuel purchases (propane).
I have solar power sufficient for my needs, and a 2500 gallon water tank, and conventional septic.
A well in my area is estimated to cost a minimum of $30K, and the water is likely to be tainted by heavy metals and arsenic. On of my projects is to try to use a greenhouse and a solar evaporator to purify tainted well water. I saw a TED talk about using a greenhouse to distill water from the West African air using principles based on bio-mimicry and making use of strategically-placed hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces and nighttime condensation. (I hope to increase the efficiency by using solar-powered swamp cooler to create a consistently cool place to form condensation.  

I had considered going with a composting toilet, but I found the extra work was too much for me.
Same with all those neat solar ovens and dehydrators, etc.: I simply do not have the strength and energy to build all that.

So: How do I offer my property to a mixed-age community sufficient to develop my vision too develop the property as a Desert Research and Education Center?

I want to develop techniques for creating a pasture-based regenerative agriculture system that can be applied to restoring the entire Mohave Valley!

A community for the elderly needs young people around. My property is probably not big enough by itself, but it's bordered on two sides by BLM land.

I'm hoping that I can get a government grant to use the adjacent BLM land as a test site to develop methods for a way to convert open range to a pasture-based livestock management system that would consist of 365 paddocks, separated by electric fences, and using an appropriate number of livestock, hopefully roughly equivalent to the number of head that currently are depleting the forage due to improper grass management. If I can show the rancher who runs cows on this part of the open range that he can improve his bottom line in the process, all the better. My real goal is nothing less than restoring the groundwater of the entire valley.

So here it is: Help me realize my vision, and the property is yours when I finally kick off this mortal coil!


 
pollinator
Posts: 187
Location: Nomadic
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Whoa, that was kind of intense reading this thread. Thanks for sharing a lot of important concerns. Navigating one of life’s major challenges for sure. Health issues and circumstances have inspired me to reflect on aging, family structure, culture, finances, elder care, self care, and so on. Still pretty baffled and bruised by it all so no great solutions here. More of a warning. But very curious in my own brain injury way. Whatever that is....it feels like coming out or something...saying the doctors now think I’ve had a undiagnosed TBI and several recurring TBI’s all these decades since childhood. I feel like an alien. Bring it on...lol
 FYI, I heard reports about Japan as they have a big aging issue. High percentage of population is elderly.  Some of the 60-70 year old people help take care of the 80-90 year old people. I think Northern Europe does also. The Scandinavians are pretty resourceful. What do the Swedes do? And as was mentioned in a previous comment, what do the Africans do?
 Combining a Permaculture community with a elderly community was a idea I suggested to my parents several times.  No reply except the stock “who’s going to pay for it” in a very negative cynical tone response. I didn’t know how to respond to the negativity except to say “ I’ll pitch in every cent I can earn and do a lot of the labor” (Here comes the brain injured martyr). But after enduring further neglect or negativity I responded with depression. So there it ended. Proposing a cooperative elderly community in Kenya where my Mum lives seemed to have potential due to lower costs and gentler climate. It was another dead end. More stock responses.
It seems Im the one person in my parents small shrinking family that has tried to do things together cooperatively since day one to the chagrin and rejection by everyone else in the family. This wasn’t stoicism it was extreme stoicism. They all seem to prefer to seek the easiest path and opportunities and seek money or social standing to acquire services. I feel like I’ve been born into a family of ecological curmudgeons. Hiding behind their computers, alcohol, foolish pride, and projections. Or they just put their head in the sand. Maybe they know something I don’t. Money rules?! Maybe they are simply waiting until the need to depend on someone is more urgent. I was thinking differently. A Permaculture community, affordable paid-for facilities, food forests, abundance, water and food security, etc, doesn’t appear overnight. I was trying to plan far ahead. It takes years even decades to find good acreage, plan it, pay for it, heal it, develop it harmoniously, work the bugs out, learn how to get along and trust each other,.... Yadi Yada. I think that was just too much for them. Too many video games to play, beers to drink, and holes to hide in. So I made the mistake of becoming desperate, impulsive, gullible, and naive and diving in and overcommiting with another family. Little did I know I’d been targeted by a ruthless narcissist. Well after 20 years of backbreaking work, financial martyrdom , untreated injuries, and personal neglect and suffering I accomplished an 20 acre abundant and thriving site with new buildings. 10000 trees planted.  And fixed the old buildings and barns which is brutal work.  Fixed the rental house for income. Built a new superinsulated house.  Built a 4 bay workshop in which to earn income. A plant nursery. Managed the animals......I see why old buildings are bulldozed mostly. It’s endless work and I was allergic to the dust and mold also.
 Shortly after the new buildings were complete I was told to leave. What!! Even though 20 years earlier I was promised equal partnership and would never need to worry about money or land. But I couldn’t remember exactly until later. In a sort of state of denial and numbness I continued doing work on the food forests, plant nursery, solar, conservation, and workshop construction until the sheriffs literally pushed me off the property. Lived in my car briefly then moved a Motorhome to another neglected farm (with permission).  Then I discovered that the plot against me evolved for several years. They defamed and slandered me bearing false witness to a judge to have me removed. This was a plot to escape having to recompense me anything for 20 years work and rob me of my work and property. But it felt like they were taking my family and children when they took the Permaculture site and land. I didn’t even care about the money. It hit me at an emotional level. But I should have cared about the money from the beginning. Unfortunately that’s how this system, if you can call it that, works. No money, no proof, no justice. It was my word against theirs. And they ganged up on me. I could have robbed them blind over that 20 years if I thought and plotted like they did. But I didn’t. They did. I was thinking in win win terms and assumed they were too.
 I had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t defend myself so they got away with it completely. They have to live with themselves but I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow forgot all about the promises they made. Narcissists can be so assured in their supreme entitled righteousness. Now I endure joint injuries, hiatal hernia, depression, anxiety, ptsd, poverty, ...Yadi Yada. I even sold my land in Hawaii to help fund the work I did. While they made endless excuses to not lift a finger. OMG, Sounds like a country song doesn’t it. I sometimes get pissed and feel sick on top of it all from the stress. But I have recently learned that a early undiagnosed traumatic brain injury prevented me from standing up for myself. I just immersed myself in my work like an obedient slave while they and the head narcissist took full advantage of it. The daily headaches and weird hearing, speech, and concentration symptoms made it impossible for me to deal properly with people like that. They would gaslight me when I did try to assert myself and stand up for myself. In a brain injured state I could not manage that. I sometimes wonder if in a real old fashioned village no one could get away with such deceit and falsehood.
So where are the Permaculture communities for the elderly?. I’ll do my share and make the slackers look bad so they will want to destroy me before they are exposed for the phonies they are. Just kidding but I make my point. I hope I’ve learned my lesson.  But these people will find other targets to abuse, defraud, and hurt.  Im no Odysseus who returns to his Kingdom to roust out the suitors. I’m no Robin Hood.  I got my butt whooped instead. That’s not how the story was meant to go. I guess I have a hero/martyr complex lol. No I simply tried to live with honor and integrity and got royally screwed.  But the world is a better place. And I am left wondering about self fulfilling prophecies planted in the subconscious. It would have been good to get a settlement so I could buy some land instead of being on the street. Nah, I’ll seek a new life being a Nomadic vagabond and enjoy the little freedom left. And sow good seeds of communion as I can.
This brings up another topic:  Where are the Permaculture communities for people who have been defrauded?? And are entering elder years?
And a warning to the naive or brain injured: be careful, people you think you know can turn into vicious strangers when it comes to land and money. You’ve been warned. The elderly can and do get preyed upon also. If this message helps prevent even one other person from getting ripped off then there’s some good come from it.  And don’t be angry at the bad guys. Let’s keep working on win win regenerative solutions. Put the energy into something healing. Thanks, rant over.
 
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Okay... my body is 72, but I'm far from elderly...  That being said I shall continue...

There was a guy out in CA a few years back who was pushing an IC where the older participants raised the children of the younger ones.  While there is something to be said for this type of "grandparenting" I felt that his idea was that the younger participants would run around with bacchanalian abandon while the older ones would take care of the rest.  Not my idea of a good IC...

Older members of an IC can work gardens with ease.  Sure, we may not be able to spend 8-10 hours a day digging in the dirt, but we can easily put in a solid 4 hours or more of seed planting, weeding and harvesting.  I can operate my tiller with ease and drive my tractor for hours which opens up time for others to fulfill other needs.  Don't forget too that something needs to be done with the harvest to save it for the entire year, be that canning, drying or freezing.  There is much more to growing veggies than just putting them on the immediate table.  

Older members can provide high quality educational opportunities for younger, school aged members, too.  If the choice is to "home school", as it were, there are those of us who have a wealth of knowledge in mathematics, literature, science, geography and the arts.  If not, and the younger generation attends public schools, then homework help is readily available.  

As far as health goes, a lot of this depends upon the care the community is willing to give to the aged or infirm (not all infirm are elderly...).  While I wouldn't expect a community to be specifically built around total elder care, having a dynamic community with members of many age groups...like most communities really are...seems to be ideal.  Ideally, having one member who is a licensed medical professional, such as an RN, PA or some such would be ideal.  Setting up a central clinic room where an outside medical professional could come to attend the community's needs would also be a benefit.  It isn't always the aged who need medical care, y'know.

Finally, a lot of us know decent ways of doing things because we've already made a lot of mistakes...
 
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We are planning to put some sort of tiny-ish house (AKA 'Auxillary Housing Unit') on our property for my mom who is in her mid-80's and currently living independently 1000 miles away from us.  She is in reasonable health, just unable to manage property/house upkeep on her own anymore.  We designed our house and property with the idea of aging in place, with lots of focus on developing out zone 1.  However, making plans for my mom has made me realize that we have not taken into account all exigencies, specifically the possibility of deteriorating health/debilitation.  We are childless (another lack of foresight?)  One of my grandmothers died with advanced Alzheimer's; my parents tried to take care of her for years until it got to be too much. I fully expect to be institutionalized myself if I develop that condition.

Co-housing is looking more appealing, particularly something along the lines of Elderberry:  http://www.elderberrycohousing.com/  My research is showing lots of people planning rural co-housing communities, but not many achieving it.  So it looks as though we would need to start now, in our early 60's, to find kindred souls of all ages who would be interested in setting up a permaculture-based co-housing community.  My concern with moving into a city co-housing community with access to medical care, etc. (husband's preference) is that I really believe there is going to be some sort of social upheaval around unaddressed climate change 10 -15 years from now and suspect the ability to grow one's own food will be increasingly important.  

Alternatively, we could move into the structure we build for my mom when the time comes, and rent our house out to a younger couple who would willing to take us into town to dr.'s appointments from time to time, help harvest firewood, etc.  If we could get around the septic requirements, we could set up a small co-housing community here on our land, which would be ideal.  

So much to think about!  Never thought I'd get old enough to worry about this stuff.
 
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