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New Living Concepts

Welcome to the Eldercare Revolution

Not long ago, there were few options for seniors needing healthcare or homecare assistance. One type of nursing home seemed to loom, a lonely and decrepit place, on everyone's horizon. Enter a few visionaries who rolled up their sleeves, and then grabbed their megaphones and spread the word. New creative and alternative living situations are popping up everywhere, changing the way society sees elders, and changing the ways elders live - and even thrive through their later years.

The Eden Alternative - Getting Back to the Garden

Dr. Bill Thomas is out to reform long-term care. He started with a nursing home in New York where he worked as a physician. He dug up the lawn and grew an organic garden. He welcomed dogs, cats, and birds. He brought in plants and artwork. And he invited the residents to be involved in the gardening, the cooking, and other daily tasks -- even the decision-making. The result? A 50 percent decrease in infection. A 71 percent decline in daily drug costs. And the turnover in staff? That dropped dramatically, too.

Dr. Thomas knew he was onto something. He began The Eden Alternative, which has helped create or convert 300 long-term care homes in the U.S. and 200 in Europe. More recently, he's involved with building Green Houses, which are groups of cottages with cozy hearth rooms and open kitchens. A dozen or so residents share a home, and share home-cooked meals, complete with freshly baked bread and vegetables from their garden, served family style around one big table. Amenities include skilled nursing care and homecare services, with an emphasis on honoring aging and maintaining the elder's dignity.

The Eden Alternative at Home helps family caregivers integrate the Eden philosophies and discoveries into caring for their aging parent or loved one at home. To learn more, go to www.edenalternative.com.

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

Here's another idea to throw into the mix: NORCs, or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, are neighborhoods or apartment buildings where the residents are largely made up of aging seniors. Instead of these seniors moving out and into assisted living or nursing homes, they're banding together to bring health care and homecare services to them. This way, they can age in place, among their familiar neighbors and friends.

Cambridge at Home

Even if your parents' neighborhood isn't home for a lot of seniors, there are other, citywide communities of seniors who are pooling resources in order to age in their homes. Cambridge at Home gives Cambridge, Massachusets residents who are over 50 years of age access to a broad array of services, including home healthcare, transportation, shopping assistance, and much, much more. The annual membership fee is $1,200 per couple, which also includes a 10% discount on live-in and hourly home care, as well as free exercise classes and group walks.