Aging in Place: It Takes a Village

Aging in Place: It Takes a Village

“Aging in Place” I doubt the phrase has been been focus-grouped; it sounds geological, staid. However, as the advanced warning systems of Old Age begin to register, it’s what most of us say we want. Rather than senior living communities, old age homes, or assisted living, we want to live in our own place.

The warning signs for me came about a decade ago. I was in my mid-60s. My mother, who is 18 years older than I, was beginning to show signs of dementia. She also began to experience a series of health crises resulting in hospitalizations, followed by rehab before returning home to her apartment. Mom is relatively secure financially; she has excellent health insurance, a modest retirement account and has paid off her mortgage.

Especially after a couple nursing home stays for post-hospitalization rehab, Mom was adamant about wanting to stay in her own place. Even the four-star-hotel-like assisted living complex where we dined when I visited during her rehab stays turned her off. However, she had given little thought to what kind of supports she would need to be able to continue to live on her own.

Hospitalizations seemed to exacerbate the dementia. It became clear that Mom was no longer able to manage her own affairs and that she had made few preparation for transferring those responsibilities. The family rallied, as did Mom after her last hospital stay. She refused offers from me and my siblings to have her move in with one of us.

So, we became quick studies in elder care. I found Jim Comer’s When Roles Reverse: a Guide to Parenting Your Parents particularly helpful. We hired a caregiver to come in a couple hours a day to fix Mom’s meals, make sure she gets her meds, get her to appointments, shop, etc. We got her a medical alert system and installed a couple online cameras in her apartment that we can check from our own computers at any time. Her living will and Do Not Resuscitate orders are in order.

After each crisis, we increased caregiver hours, made safety adjustments to the apartment, etc. Following her last hospitalization, which she barely survived a couple years ago, we signed her up with a hospice Navigator program; next crisis, instead of going to the hospital, hospice care is initiated.

The experience with Mom opened my eyes to how much help I will need, sooner or later, as I continue to live way beyond my statistical life expectancy. I do not want my kids burdened with trying to figure out what to do with Dad when Dad can’t do for himself.

For years, I’ve nurtured a fantasy of growing old in an “intentional” community. Since the 1960s, I’ve also experienced a wide range of communal living situations. For a while my fantasy envisioned the dozen homes in our cozy, double-cul-de-sac neighborhood in the Boise foothills. Then, those homes started going on the market at prices way out of the range of my vision.

In my elder-care research I learned of the Village movement, which started in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood at the turn of the century. The Village concept appeals to me because it attempts to achieve many of the goals of an intentional community without the need for members to move into a commune. Lack of geographic proximity is overcome and many of the inherent difficulties of “living in community” are avoided through communication and organization of resources.

When I returned to Boise from one of my trips to Ohio to visit Mom, I told Diane Ronayne, my wife, about the Village concept. That was in 2012. The rest is history, which you may read here. It is four years later; Boise at Home, Boise’s “Village,” is off and running thanks largely to Diane and Boise elder-law attorney Susan Graham.

This week, Natalie Galucia, director of the national Village to Village Network is in Boise to address the 2016 summit on Elder Abuse and Exploitation. The topic: Aging in Place: Safely, Securely and Independently.

If you’d like to meet Natalie, there’s a public reception for her Monday, June 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Riverside Hotel, co-sponsored by JAVA (Justice Alliance for Vulnerable Adults) and Boise at Home. The summit conference is Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the BSU SUB. Ms. Galucia is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at 9:20 a.m. A panel (including Diane Ronayne) will follow, responding to Natalie’s remarks. Other speakers will address: resources for aging in place, home safety, senior living decisions, communicating across generations about life transitions and red flags of abuse/exploitation.

Oh, and let’s come up with something less staid than Aging in “Place.”



Trump in training

Trump in training

Republican debate warm-up—a few years back:

The denouement—This is what we citizens may look forward to:

I don’t watch much “reality” TV. I didn’t witness the development of The Donald’s on-stage persona. These clips show that for years Trump has been strategically training for his role in the public arena. He’s turned the Republican “debates” into an Apprentice/Wrestling show, as phony as those put on by the WWE, if somewhat more restrained.
Recall our recent actor-president who developed a popular persona—much more congenial, in quite different times and much more into taking direction. I could not imagine Jesse Ventura becoming governor of Minnesota or The Arnold governor of California. It is truly amazing how this democratic republic stumbles along.
Les Malheureux

Les Malheureux

Beware the righteous, doing the work of the “Lord.”

Ties that bind, religion, the opiate of the masses, is the source of the confusion at Malheur.

Brand Thornton, 63, holding a shofar, made from an animal horn. He appeared at the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada blowing the horn with a rifle strapped to his shoulder. Public records put Thornton in the Las Vegas area. His Facebook page says he owns Just Companies Inc., identified on Angie’s List as a heating and air conditioning company. Oregonian photo & caption info.

According to an interview with Brand Thornton, the occupier with the shofar,*  <> there is “a handful of trusted individuals” in the inner circle who see Ammon as the group’s “spiritual leader….” They share his apocalyptic vision. Thornton cites chapter & verse of “Doctrines & Covenants” to justify their interpretation of the Constitution, which many Mormons view as a divinely inspired document that, like the Holy Bible, is improved with latter-day revelation.

Thornton claims to have experienced group revelation with the “trusted individuals.”

Beware the prophet saint seeking martyrdom. Shades of  Kirtland**, Mountain Meadows, Waco, Jonestown….

The outer circles of gun-toting “militia” are Ammon’s tools. Read the Book of Alma, 17 ff. These guys are preparing for a Holy War.

I wonder if the established Church of Latter-Day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, has an intervention squad to deal with this sort of apostasy. This is a problem with religions that encourage followers to pursue their own conversations with the divine. Joseph Smith and other authorized prophets of the church dealt harshly with such “false” prophets.

*The shofar was blown when Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbing down. The shofar was commonly taken to war so the troops would know when a battle would begin. The person who blew the shofar would call out to the troops from atop a hill. The troops could hear the call from their positions because of shofar’s distinct sound.



What if…?

The day after militia members began their occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Washington Post writer Janell Ross asked a question on a lot of minds “Why aren’t we calling the Oregon occupiers ‘terrorists’?”

As of Sunday afternoon, The Washington Post called them “occupiers.” The New York Times opted for “armed activists” and “militia men.” And the Associated Press put the situation this way: “A family previously involved in a showdown with the federal government has occupied a building at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon and is asking militia members to join them.”

Not one seemed to lean toward terms such as “insurrection,” “revolt,” anti-government “insurgents” or, as some on social media were calling them, “terrorists.” When a group of unknown size and unknown firepower has taken over any federal building with plans and possibly some equipment to aid a years-long occupation — and when its representative tells reporters that they would prefer to avoid violence but are prepared to die — the kind of almost-uniform delicacy and the limits on the language used to describe the people involved becomes noteworthy itself.


White Americans, their activities and ideas seem always to stem from a font of principled and committed individuals. As such, group suspicion and presumed guilt are readily perceived and described as unjust, unreasonable and unethical.


The sometimes-coded but increasingly overt ways that some Americans are presumed guilty and violence-prone while others are assumed to be principled and peaceable unless and until provoked — even when actually armed — is remarkable.

Underlying Ross’ analysis, which sticks with the power of words,  is an implicit question: What actions would the government have taken if the those who have taken over the federal wildlife preserve were black?

Well, the Portland Oregonian, which has been providing some of the most complete coverage of the Malheur occupation, has provided an answer. The Oregonian’s Joseph Rose put together an excellent roundup, with photos (some below), of how authorities have responded to other occupations of federal property.

Rose details a 1979 incident in Georgia. A group of descendents of slaves, in an act of civil disobedience, camped on land where some of their grandparents had been kicked out in 1942.

Feds forcibly removed black occupiers from wildlife refuge in 1979


FBI agents forcibly remove black protesters from a tent during a 1979 camp-in at Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. government had seized the property in 1942 from descendants of former slaves. (Emory University/Lewis H. Beck Center)

Although on the Georgia coast and much smaller, like Malheur, the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge is a mix of wetlands and farmland whose ownership has been disputed since the 19th century. Unlike Malheur, the Harris Neck “squatters” were unarmed and black, attempting to reclaim refuge land, which was being leased by a white county commissioner to graze his cattle.

1979clip 1979-camp1


Children play at the 1979 camp-in at the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast. The U.S. government seized the property from the descendants of former slaves in 1942. (Emory Univ.)

Malheur protestor arrested after driving federal vehicle into town for more snacks

Malheur protestor arrested after driving federal vehicle into town for more snacks

The farce continues. I hope someone is working on a musical comedy about all of this….


Kenneth Medenbach, 62, of Crescent, Oregon, was arrested Friday shortly after noon at the Safeway in Burns for “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle” reported by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


photos: Thomas Boyd | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Medenbach had been released from custody in Medford on condition that he would not “occupy” any federal property. He’d been convicted of illegally camping on federal property, where he’d  attempted to protect the site with trip-wires and explosives. State police were taking him to Bend to be booked into the Deschutes County jail on a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Bail was to be set at $10,000.
There has been no explanation for why the driver of a FWS van recovered from the Safeway lot has not been detained.

Medenbach at another USFWS pickup whose agency logo had been obliterated.


The pickup from which Medenback was aprehended had been “rebranded” with new stickers that read “Harney County Resource Center” covering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife logos.


According to the Oregonian’s Les Zaitz, who has been covering the Malheur militia shenanigans,

In 1995, Medenbach was convicted on federal charges for illegally camping on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. He was ordered held in custody because of evidence that Medenbach poses a risk to the safety of other persons or the community because [he] acknowledges intimidation practices, references ‘Ruby Ridge’ and ‘Waco, Texas,’ and clearly would not follow conditions of release restraining his presence at the scene of the alleged unlawful activity,” according to a federal appellate court ruling upholding his conviction.

The appellate ruling said there was “evidence that Medenbach had attempted to protect his forest campsite with fifty to a hundred pounds of the explosive ammonium sulfate, a pellet gun, and what appeared to be a hand grenade with trip wires. The government also proffered evidence that Medenbach had warned Forest Service officers of potential armed resistance to the federal government’s continued control of the forest lands in question.”

Mendenbach earlier attempted to squat on federal land in southern Oregon. During those court hearings, he claimed the U.S. Constitution gave the federal government authority to own property only for military installations and post offices, The Oregonian’s archives show.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan handled some of the proceedings. Hogan was the judge who in 2012 decided that Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven should serve lighter sentences than required by law for setting fire to public lands.

Medenbach also has a long history of convictions on charges related to driving documentation and providing false information to law enforcement.