The ‘Aging Gratefully’ in cohousing film series now streaming – rent or buy

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Book a personal appearance by “Aging Gratefully: The Power of Good Health and Good Neighbors” filmmaker Alan O’Hashi who will screen the film and facilitate a discussion. $$$ is deductible and negotiable!

The “Aging Gratefully in Cohousing” documentary series is now streaming. There are currently three films related to growing old in an intentional community.

You can also book a screening for your community or general audience by obtaining a screening license for a nominal donation.

To purchase or rent, click on the Video On Demand (VOD) links below:

“Aging Gratefully: The Power of Good Health and Good Neighbors” (Run Time: 50min – 2017) Filmmaker and Silver Sage Village senior cohousing resident Alan O’Hashi is mostly recovered from his death bed illness in 2013.

DSCN2046 As a result of that experience he’s become much more aware of his health. One of his neighbors circulated information about a research study at the University of Colorado about the effects of exercise on brain health.

Curious, he was selected to be a research subject. To measure success, one of the criteria is emotional health and strength of relationship building.

Does living in a cohousing community be an added benefit to physical exercise? He interviewed six residents of newly-formed Germantown Commons to find out their motivations to living in cohousing and whether living intentionally with neighbors was a positive experience and what physical activities happen in a group setting.

Germantown Commons featured residents:

  • Essie Sappenfield (retired)
  • Doug Luckes (still working)
  • Suzanne Glasgow (still working)
  • Sarah Carroll (single mom)
  • Chris Corby (still working)
  • Ginger Lange (retired)
  • Vicki Metzgar (retired)

Also Appearing:

  • Bryan Bowen, AIA (Caddis Architects)
  • Angela Bryan PhD ( Principal Investigator CU FORCE study)
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Book a personal appearance by “Aging Gratefully: The Power of Culture and Traditions” filmmaker Alan O’Hashi who will screen the film and facilitate a discussion about his experiences. $$$ is deductible and negotiable.

“Aging Gratefully: The Power of Culture and Traditions” (Run Time: 30 min – 2017) My latest trek took me to South Africa where I’m investigating a third documentary in the Aging Gratefully series.

There’s an intentional community being formed in the Town of Memel and the Township of Zamani in the South African Free State Province by a friend and colleague, Steven Ablondi and his wife Cindy Burns. Steve and I serve on the National Cohousing Association board of directors.

I tagged along with the Memel Global Community architect and my across the street neighbor Bryan Bowen and a couple of his crew, Jamison and Molly. Bryan lives in the Wild Sage Cohousing community in Boulder.

I embedded myself with a local buy named Shakes in the Black African community and even though it was only for a couple days, I gained quite a bit of insight into the cultural dynamics, which are not unlike those I encounter among my Northern Arapaho tribal member friends.

As this story develops, how Native American tribes could incorporate cohousing concepts into its growing housing demand will also be investigated. There are generations-long traditional tribal cultures that have a norm about multi-generational care for elders. Does it it makes any sense to form intentional communities around these customs?

This is a 30 minutes pilot of my visit shot mainly on an iPhone 6s and I’m not sure if anything will come of this story. What do you think?

Memel Global Community featured denizens:

  • Steven Ablondi (cofounder)
  • Bryan Bowen (Caddis Architects)
  • Shakes Mafanela (SheWins sports coordinator)
  • Marley Hauser (SheWins volunteer)
  • Pieter Lombaard (Binary Film Works)
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Book a personal appearance by “Aging Gratefully: The Power of Community” filmmaker Alan O’Hashi who will screen the film and facilitate a discussion about his experiences. $$$ is deductible and negotiable!

“Aging Gratefully: The Power of Community” (Run Time: 51min – 2015) In the first of the series, what if 25 senior citizens decided to grow old together in a cohousing community? Learn about their illness, angst, and fun times while owning and maintaining 16 condos, a common house and community gardens.

Cohousing is a collaborative living arrangement. Residents own their own homes, live private lives but share in the ownership and upkeep of common spaces such the garden and common house.

It’s a challenging way to live, but living together more intentionally is a hedge against being alone and isolated through the twilight years of life.

Filmmaker and Silver Sage Village resident Alan O’Hashi was on his death bed in December 2013. Following a 6 week hospital and rehab stay and a month of home confinement, he joined a yoga community to regain his strength, but learned more about himself than just getting healthier.

Through his reflections, he recounts his continuing recovery and weaves those experiences with the perspectives of neighbors with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and those who find themselves in supportive neighborly care giving roles.

Cohousing pioneers Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett and gerontologist Anne Glass phD offer their perspectives about senior cohousing living.

jim brownie bbqerSilver Sage Village featured residents:

  • Lindy Cook (nurse)
  • John Huyler (facilitator)
  • Henry and Jean Kroll (retired from San Francisco)
  • Dan Knifong (retired professor)
  • Jim Leach (Silver Sage Village developer)
  • Margaret Porter (retired federal government)

Also Appearing:

  • Anne Glass phD (University of North Carolina Wilmington Gerontology Program Coordinator)
  • Chuck Durrett AIA (McCamant and Durrett Architects)
  • Katie McCamant (The Cohousing Company)
  • Larissa Ortiz (teacher The Little Yoga Studio)

The Denver Post published a story prior to “Aging Gratefully” production beginning and KGNU radio did a story about it post production

If you have questions about purchase, rental or booking a screening, email Boulder Community Media

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Would you invite your future self out for lunch?

I must be around two years old. My maternal grand parents visited on Christmas. My grandfather lived to be 103.

I must be around two years old. My maternal grand parents visited on Christmas. My grandfather lived to be 103.

I subscribe to a blog called the Gero-Punk Project and the query in a recent post was about futurism and asking readers, such as myself, to look forward.

“Would I go out to lunch with my future older self?” There were a bunch of questions, but I narrowed and modified them down to these:

How much older are you than you are now and how far into deep old age are you able to travel in your imagination? When I was laid up in 2013 and couldn’t walk, feed myself or wipe my butt, I thought this is what I would be like when I was ready for hospice care, hoping that would be in my late 80s or 90s. I have a family history of longevity and I don’t envision myself in that bad of shape. If I were to ask my future self out to lunch, I’d likely be in my 7os or 80s. A friend of mine who lives in Tucson in his 80s is quite active, works and contributes to the community. I see myself like him – he’s very computer and tech savvy, is still able to drive and get himself around. I can see myself in that way 20 years from now. Ten years from now is easier to envision. I see people around my neighborhood in their 70s and they are quite vibrant and keeping up with current trends. My mom died at 77 and I can see myself being like her and living actively up until my last breath. She lived long but died short of a massive heart attack in her sleep.

When you try to imagine your future older self, how do you feel? What sensations do experience in your body? Since resurrecting myself back to relative good health, I’ve become much more aware of my entire body, more so than when I was younger. I notice little things – aches and pains, itches and scratches more so than in the past. I lost quite a bit of weight – 37 pounds – that I want to keep much of it off (I’ve gained back 20) and still getting stronger from when I was bed ridden. The acid test was the Bolder Boulder 10K road race three months after being released from the hospital, which was a success. I had to take a swig of oxygen going up the last Folsom Hill into the Stadium. One of my neighbors in her 90s managed to finish the Bolder Boulder up until the year she died.

When you imagine your future older self, what are your surroundings? I’m thinking I won’t be needing any assisted living 10 years from now and probably still living where I am at Silver Sage. Twenty years from now, I hope to still be living independently. Even though living in “community” can be a big pain in the butt, it is nice to have neighbors around. I suspect the surroundings are going to change since I’m one of the youngest people here and in 10 years and for sure in 20 years, there will likely be some deaths and people moving out to assisted living, nursing homes or in with relatives and new, younger people moving into the ‘hood.

What are some ways in which you can experience enjoyment, freedom, and passion … in your aging body? I don’t want to out-live my peers, which is starting to happen. I’m making an effort to befriend men and women who are now in their 30s and 40s. I’ll live as full as I can. I tried shooting some baskets a couple summers ago with a kid, which was a cue for me to get stronger and get more flexible, which is why I started yoga class at The Little Yoga Studio. There aren’t a lot of men who attend, I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest person. I made a vow to myself not to end up being the old guy in the club. I could use some passion in my life as I get older. Time is getting away!

Who are your co-creatures in later life? With whom do you spend time and enjoy life? Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of acquaintances and able to stay in touch with many of them through social media. I’ve made a point of not befriending many of my cohousing neighbors. In cohousing, other than basic neighborliness,  my main interaction among everyone is conducting business. That will change as households age and there’s more reliance on a property manager, which is a transition that’s happening now. I don’t have any family of my own. I have a domestic partner, but she’s several years older than me and has her own family. It’s hard to say if I’ll still be in that fold if something happens to her. My cousins are scattered all around the place. They all have their own lives elsewhere and I’m not counting on them to pay attention to my well being later in life. I come in and out of a couple friends’ lives who would be a good companions — but life is about timing.

What is the quality of mind — the form of consciousness — that you bring to your aging experience? Cable TV must be the domain of old people. All the ads are for arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimers. I’m finding that I don’t remember proper names like I did. I still remember faces and details about people but remember a name on the spot? Forget about it, the name will eventually come to me though. I hear that if you play word games that helps keep the mind sharp, but I don’t think that slows down the aging process. Most places I go, I find that I’m the oldest person. I don’t know if others view me like that though, but I notice. I visit a friends and neighbors at the rehab center over in the nearby rehab center. It was one of those “one size fits all” places with basic physical rehab to long term nursing care in the same building. It was eye opening to see how people end up – unaware, wheel chair bound and just waiting it out. I hope I don’t make it that long.

What do you see as your purpose in your later years? When my dad retired many years ago and I was still living in Lander, Wyoming and “commuting” back and forth to Boulder working on a project for the Northern Arapaho Tribe, I learned about a guy named Rabbi Zalman Schachter who wrote a book called “From Aging to Saging.” I gave a copy to my dad when he retired. He was a bit freaked out about what he was going to do with his time. He wasn’t a golfer or recreater. He was thinking about getting into multi-level marketing, traveling. He ended up doing quite a bit with the Presbyterian Church – mostly because my mom was pretty involved. She was a watercolor painter and they were a team. She painted pictures, he matted, framed, hung and took down the shows. He didn’t really do much social change type work, but it was better than sitting around and watching sports on TV. I see myself still working. I’ve slowed down a bit, but I hope to be producing meaningful content for digital media, maybe helping organizations with fund raising.

What new things are your future older self learning and experiencing? I’m trying to keep up with the basic innovations and have always been on the leading edge of things. I used to be an early adopter of technology, but with things changing as rapidly as they are, I’ve been slowing down my consumerism. My dad never learned how to use a computer, although my mom did and was quite proficient at email. She didn’t make it through to social media, but I’m pretty sure she would be facebooking along with the best of us. Within the next 20 years, I’ll still be going strong keeping in touch with people the best I can.

What changes in your thinking and acting do you need to make in your current life in order to have the embodied old age you envisage?  I have to downsize. Get rid of stuff. I have started this and it’s a very tedious task. My sister has squatted on the family property that’s full of three households of junk. There’s no telling when that’s going to be purged. I don’t want to be stuck with the detritus of life. She still is clinging onto our parent’s past lives. It would be nice to get rid of all that property and my sister can get a life of her own.

If you invited your future older self over for lunch, what would you ask him? “Why the hell did you allow yourself to get so old?”

Book a screening – ‘Aging Gratefully: The Power of Community’

Boulder Senior Cohousing Communities

BOULDER, CO – SEPTEMBER 2: Lindy Cook and Alan O’Hashi pull weeds from the garden of the community with other residents. The active adult cohousing community for those 55 or older is setup like a usual condo community with every person having their own place, but the sense of community is what is unique. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

I recently completed a new documentary about aging together. What happens when 25 senior citizens – the subjects of “Aging Gratefully: The Power of Community” (TRT 51min) – decide to form a cohousing community?

You can keep up with the latest on the facebook page. The 16min preview version is available to give an idea as to the content.

I live in a cohousing community called Silver Sage Village in North Boulder, Colorado. The film provides insights from six of my neighbors about their experiences and perspectives about growing old together. Everyone here is over 50 years of age.

How did the movie come into being?

Cohousing is a collaborative living arrangement. Residents own their own homes, live private lives but share in the ownership and upkeep of common spaces such the garden and common house.

It’s a challenging way to live, but living together more intentionally is a hedge against being alone and isolated through the twilight years of life.

In May, my next door neighbor’s Henry and Jean Kroll were facing the prospects of dementia which was later confirmed as Alzheimer’s Disease. After seven years, Jean had to move into a long term nursing care institution. Soon thereafter, my up stairs neighbor Gere Young was moved by her family into an assisted living facility.

Meanwhile, another resident moved and sold her place to a women with a debilitating health issue.

Times are changing at Silver Sage Village.

There there’s my story, which I’ve written extensively about in these pages.  I faced a huge lifestyle change when I landed in the hospital two years ago on December 16h. I had a rare lung disease, couldn’t walk, was on a respirator. On top of that I developed a septic ulcer that was repaired. I made it home six weeks later.

Having to regain my strength and flexibility, I joined a yoga studio. I didn’t know much about yoga but one of my teachers gave a darma talk about the importance of community and how we are members of many communities that help us navigate through life.

That was the nexus of the movie – where community meets individual choice and the balance that must be struck between the two.

I put out a casting call and was surprised that I heard from so many men, but I wanted to focus on my neighbors who have or have had life changes while at Silver Sage Village. Dan Knifong has Parkinson’s, Jean has Alzheiemers, Jim’s wife Brownie is currently in rehab with an unknown nervous condition, any myself. Two others have mostly been in support roles.

The National Cohousing Conference happened in Durham, NC and I decided to attend at the last minute. I am new to the CoHo USA board and wanted to meet my colleagues, and see if there would be any interesting people there to interview.

I ended up talking with a gerontologist named Anne Glass from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and architect Chuck Durrett who is credited with bringing cohousing to the United States.

I wanted to find out about their theoretical ideas and see how they match up with real world experiences and perceptions of current senior cohousers.

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The interviews were conducted by a colleague of mine Mary Ann Williamson. I wanted to keep arms-length from my neighbors hoping to get more frank information from them.

Through my reflections, I recount my continuing recovery and weave those experiences with the perspectives of neighbors with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and those who find themselves in supportive neighborly care giving roles.

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Henry and Jean Kroll celebrate Henry’s birthday at a recent Silver Sage Village community event.

 Many thanks to my friends and colleagues Michael Conti and Chris Barrera who filmed the opening scene at the Little Yoga Studio.

Silver Sage Village residents:
– Lindy Cook (nurse)
– John Huyler (facilitator)

– Henry and Jean Kroll (retired PBS staff)
– Dan Knifong (retired professor)
– Jim Leach (Silver Sage Village developer)
– Alan O’Hashi (filmmaker)
Margaret Porter (retired federal government)

Also Appearing:
– Anne Glass phD (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
– Chuck Durrett AIA (The Cohousing Company)
– Larissa Ortiz (teacher The Little Yoga Studio)

Since showing the first cut to my neighbors on December 16th – the second anniversary of being hauled by ambulance to the hospital – “Aging Gratefully” has received a bit of buzz. I have a May 2016 screening in Salt Lake City; a screening in the San Francisco bay area in the spring and invited to show it in Glasgow, Scotland.

Now I have to finish the thing!

 

 

 

Quality time?

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“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson

A friend of mine, well into her 80s, went into the hospital the other day with some blood clots. She decided against further treatment and meeting the local hospice at her home.

She had a good run.

All of a sudden, folks are wanting to share “quality time” with her and her husband.

Another guy I know is soon to be sending his wife in her 70s with advanced dementia into a memory care facility and wants to spend “quality time” with her.

What is “quality time”, anyway?

I was surprised to see that there are definitions for “quality time” mostly having to do with giving undivided and interactive attention to a loved one or kids.

There’s another definition for people at the ends of their lives. The hospice or memory care staff are very intentional about planning “quality time” for the patient such as pain management provided by medical staff and lifestyle stability by hospice staff for family and friends.

I think these two types of quality time get interchanged when it comes to visiting terminally ill people. The doctor who gave pain killers to Michael Jackson was he facilitating quality time?

I think, yes.

Not that it matters, but I don’t prefer the term.

I stopped by and visited. My friend was sedated, but awake and recognized me. Her husband, also rehabbing from a fall was his usual self, but stuck in his chair. He’s the guy I visited at the rehab center and was able to get himself sprung from there.

It was also a time to connect with others I haven’t seen in awhile. A couple of our mutual friends were there, too.

Quality time is all relative. It’s too bad a person has to be on their death bed to get visitors.

I wonder if they thought “Where were you when we were in better shape?”

For starters, I’ll be in touch with friends and family more regularly and I hope others will return the hospitality. I was in Cheyenne the other day and stopped over to see my aunt and 89 year old uncle who just got out of the hospital. He’s not in great physical shape but in good spirits.

He was a World War II vet and a member if the 442nd Regimental Combat Battalion.

wrote the other day about envisioning my future self making it to be 70 or 80. I think I’m more in tune with Hunter Thompson’s approach of skidding through life until all my tires are bald.

I’ll have to be pretty damn chipper if I want to see quality time in 2035!

Meanwhile, I found out today my 90-something year old aunt died in her sleep.

Getting old isn’t for wimps … I’ll have some of my ashes shot out of a cannon, like Hunter Thompson.