New Senior Living Approach Merges Home Care With Community

Senior care no longer entails simply caring for the elderly, but a relatively new kind of group approach including people of all ages is making headway in one New York community, write the Associated Press.

Fellowship Community is an adult home located 30 miles from Manhattan in Chestnut Ridge, New York, where seniors, adults and children all live and work under one roof.

Founded on a unique philosophy that focuses on spiritual knowledge and a practice of individual development, Fellowship seniors are at the center of the community’s mission.

The AP writes:

At the Fellowship Community‘s adult home, workers are paid not according to what they do, but what they need; aging residents are encouraged to lend a hand at the farm, the candle shop or the pottery studio; and boisterous children are welcome around the old folks.

“It’s a great place to live, and I think there’s probably no better place in the world to die,” says Joanne Karp, an 81-year-old resident who was supposed to be in her room recovering from eye surgery but instead was down the hall at the piano, accompanying three kids learning to play the recorder.

At most adult homes, a resident in decline would eventually have to go to a hospital or nursing home. But Fellowship has an exemption from state law that allows dying residents to stay there because “people have wanted to stay, and we have wanted to keep them,” said administrator Ann Scharff, who helped found the community.

“We provide a space in which people can prepare to die in a way that is accepted and nourishing to them and fraught with meaning,” Scharff said. “It’s not something you run away from, but it’s part of the whole spectrum of life, just as birth is part of life and is prepared for.”

Organizers decline to call it a commune but concede the spirit is similar. The philosophy behind it is called anthroposophy, “a source of spiritual knowledge and a practice of inner development,” according to The Anthroposophical Society in America.

The home is licensed and inspected by the state, writes AP, but does not accept federal or state aid. Instead, workers are paid according to need, with their housing, food and transportation included in the community’s required fees.

These fees include what AP writes is a “life lease” of $27,500-$50,000, in addition to rent, which can range anywhere between $700-$1,500 per month.

Read the Associated Press article via AARP’s blog.

Written by Jason Oliva

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