With a Little Help from Our Friends
Creating Community as We Grow Older
Author(s): Beth Baker
Experiments from across the country with new living arrangements that balance independence and community as one grows older
In this book, an award-winning journalist tells the story of people devising innovative ways to live as they approach retirement, options that ensure they are surrounded by a circle of friends, family, and neighbors. Based on visits and interviews at many communities around the country, Beth Baker weaves a rich tapestry of grassroots alternatives, some of them surprisingly affordable:
• a mobile home cooperative in small-town Oregon
• a senior artists colony in Los Angeles
• neighbors helping neighbors in "Villages" or "naturally occurring retirement communities"
• intentional cohousing communities
• best friends moving in together
• multigenerational families that balance togetherness and privacy
• niche communities including such diverse groups as retired postal workers, gays and lesbians, and Zen Buddhists
Drawing on new research showing the importance of social support to healthy aging and the risks associated with loneliness and isolation, the author encourages the reader to plan for a future with strong connections. Baker explores whether individuals in declining health can really stay rooted in their communities through the end of life and concludes by examining the challenge of expanding the home-care workforce and the potential of new technologies like webcams and assistive robots.
This book is the recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.
Biography of Author(s)Beth Baker, a long-time freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, AARP Bulletin, Washingtonian, and Ms. Magazine, is the features editor of BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Baker is the author of Old Age in a New Age: The Promise of Transformative Nursing Homes, also published by Vanderbilt University Press. She and her husband live in a close-knit community in Takoma Park, Maryland.
"The audience for this must-read book is [baby] boomers—and everyone else."
"[Baker] provides a well-informed, thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful analysis of why all of us should not be afraid to look forward into our future and make critical decisions now about how we wish to live our lives in old age. [...] She has done a masterful job of telling stories that have integrated her relationship with her interviewees into the larger picture of how and why housing systems and facilities for older adults are constructed and the social and political policies that may or may not exist to assist persons living into old age. [...] Baker's book provides something for everyone, and then some."
—PsycCRITIQUES, American Psychological Association
"With a Little Help from Our Friends is a thoughtful and clear-eyed look at the opportunities and challenges of aging in community. Every Baby Boomer who wants to 'age in place' should read this book. So should their children."
—Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents, Resident Fellow, the Urban Institute
"With a Little Help from Our Friends is timely and instructive. By weaving together stories about nine ways to think about community building, Beth Baker helps Boomers imagine alternatives as they prepare for living arrangements more permanent than Woodstock and less scary than where their (grand)parents ended up."
—W. Andrew Achenbaum, Deputy Director of the Consortium on Aging at the University of Texas Medical School
"Beth Baker courageously and empathetically asks the question many Baby Boomers avoid: How will we make it through our aging years with dignity, independence and pleasure? The answers she receives from folks around the US, straight and LGBT, reassure us that there are already promising paths being carved."
—Michele Kort, Senior Editor, Ms. Magazine