Remember the story of ant and grasshopper? The version we usually hear has Ant working all summer storing food for the winter and Grasshopper playing all summer, oblivious to the coming winter. We are told that Grasshopper perishes and that is a sad ending because Grasshopper did have options!
First of all, even Grasshopper knew that winter was a yearly event. He may have thought, however, that if he got into trouble, his family in Minnesota would rescue him … even if he was in California. But, Grasshopper was a fun guy and had developed some strong neighbor relationships. His neighbors could help him in a pinch! However, in the fall, Grasshopper moved to a “bedroom community” where everyone came home after dark and closed their doors. He didn’t get to meet many neighbors. Even so, if those options were unavailable to Grasshopper when winter came and he needed help, he could have moved into affordable assisted living …
Fortunately, humans can deliberately plan ahead. In our 50s, it may be only that we feel a little tired of the old routines and wish there was one number we could call for all our referral needs: a trusty handyman or technician, someone to take our car in for its tune-up, the name of an agency who will respond to our parents’ calls for help wherever they live. Having the resources envisioned by the Tierrasanta Project/Village of San Diego will free up time and energy that everyday details consume to the exclusion of the fun activities and hobbies that await us.
In our 80s, there is some diminished capacity even if we are fortunate enough to survive the freeways and avoid catastrophic health issues. One 86 year old described it thus: “Seniors search for the good life. We can forget the failures and defeats in our lives if we have security, comfort and love at this time when we know we can’t start over.”
One successful answer to meeting these needs is to deliberately develop a Village. The model we are adapting to Tierrasanta of San Diego is a non-profit membership program with resources for people of varying degrees of financial security who want to stay in their own homes in their community for as long as possible.
Three things are needed to develop a Village: a community of people who acknowledge that they will age, that recognize the value of a Village program, and a community of people who will get involved with building and supporting a Village for themselves and their neighbors!
— SUSAN DEININGER