Santa Monica, California, USA
Grinch -- But then, you're so easily swayed.
John: We, wife Deb and I, are trying an alternative approach to to the problems of aging poor and in ill health.
Last month, we moved out of public housing (a subdized rent we were entitled to and could afford) and are now sharing a private home with friends of 30 years. This is a life altering commitment, since the possibility of getting back into the public system is nil.
There's a philosophy behind this, which won't necessarily sit well with Libertarians. We, as I suspect is true for others, are in the process of re-inventing, yet again, the commune, or communal living -- a pooling of resources.
I think this has a chance of working, since we're all quite a bit older than we were in the '60's, and actually have some resources to pool.
This is the set-up: Our friends, Diana and Warren, own (with a bank, of course) a very nice, very middle class home with 5 bedrooms in the high desert on the fringe of Los Angeles County.
Warren is in the final stage of Alzheimers, rigid in body and detached in mind, requiring 24/7 care. Deb is now quadriplegic with MS, requiring 24/7 care.
Warren and Diana have a decent retirement income from Warren's career as a police officer and Social Security. Because of the help required in maintaing his health, even a decent retirement doesn't float the boat.
Deb and I have modest disibility incomes, about $22,000 a year, below, I think, poverty for two people, or darned close. On the other hand the state of California allots $24,000 a year for in home care-givers, which is less than what it would cost for both of us to be, ah, instituionalized. It's all win-win.
Warren is not entitled to the care-giver benefit, because his retirement income is above poverty level. Warren and Diana are paying for needed full time caregivers out of pocket. It's a stretch, and in fact, they go deeper into the credit card hole each month. Such is life.
Now, by combining resources, and with the addition of one more person to this "commune," we all have the potential to live with some degree of security, pizza, and Chinese take-out.
Philosophically, this requires a mind-set shift from what is "mine," (including all of us) to what is "ours," (including all of us.)
I think it takes special, though not unique, people to be able to do this.
In the 80's, Ram Dass attempted to set up a similar communal situation for people with AIDS. It didn't work because there was no commonality between the people other than a shared disease. Too much emphasis on individuality as opposed to "group," and too much tension as a result. (To say nothing of the difficulty of watching people die, and an inability to accept the process with some degree of dispassion.)
Today, there are services in most communities which attempt to match seniors with roommates, sharing the load. These seem to be only modestly successful -- too much "me" and not enough "us" involved. This is perfectly understandable. As "boomers," we got involved in a whole lot of "me-ness" and not too much "us-ness."
I don't know how this one possible alternative living and mind set is going to work out. It didn't seem to work for kids, there are innumerable instances of it not working out for mid-life adults, but maybe it has a chance among old farts with long time friends.
We're here to help each other out.
Added postscript: Boomers can be a bit different. I would never have occured to my Father, for example, not to "take care" of his and my Mom's aging parents, regardless of the sacrifices involved. At the same time, I think the notion of living with others would be entirely outside of his inculcated world view. And I still love my long gone Dad.