Commune-Like Senior Living Alternative Emphasizes Active Aging

Traditional senior living communities are not the only places older adults can age in place and stay involved in the community, according to the Associated Press via AARP’s blog. 

The Fellowship Community is an adult home that provides a commune-like setting for seniors, adults and children in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., about 30 miles from Manhattan.

Founded on a philosophy that encourages individual development through communal welfare, Fellowship allows residents of all ages to live together under one roof. 

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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. 

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The 33-bed adult home is at the center of Fellowship Community, a collection of about 130 men, women and children founded in 1966 that offers seniors — including the aging baby boom generation — an alternative to living out their final years in traditional assisted-living homes or with their grown sons and daughters.

“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.

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At most adult homes, according to the article, dying residents are required to go to a hospital or a nursing home, but at Fellowship, an exemption allows these declining residents to stay. 

While caring for the elderly is a main activity for Fellowship, workers have other responsibilities that include cultivating and selling of crops,  as well as other goods produced by the community. 

Read the post from AARP.

Written by Jason Oliva