Moving to an urban retirement community with my 6 year old son

I am very excited to start preparing for my second immersion project at the Residences of Thomas Circle in downtown Washington, DC, where I will be joined by my 6 year old son, Asa on Aug 19. My hope is that this experience will further illustrate that these communities are homes to “people” not “older people” or “people with disabilities.” Click here for a great example of this!

In my first immersion experience at Paul Spring Retirement Community in February, I was immediately struck with the benefits of having a younger person living in an environment that is largely segmented by age. When I shared the idea of having my family join me on one of my next moves, many of the residents of the community thought it was a wonderful idea.

Because these projects are short-term moves, I realized the logistics of having both of my kids and my wife with me might compromise the focus of my immersion project. However, making it a father and son experience might be more feasible.

Planning this made me reflect on the potential that communities might offer to single parent households. Having been raised in a single-parent household, I can see tremendous opportunities for parent, child and elders.

I look forward to another experience that can help us all think outside the box!

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    Dear Steve:

    The story below was forwarded to me by a client whose mother is at Atrium Village in Assisted Living. I could not help but think of you being there with your son.

    My hope would be that your son could lead all those providing care for the vulnerable — not just at Atrium Village but in all other similar residences — to look into their hearts and to examine their attitudes. May he move them toward the respect and caring they would want for themselves as they age, just as the child in the story led his parents to change toward his grandfather.

    Susan Newhouse, LCSW-C
    Care Manager
    Senior Solutions
    [email protected]


    A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and
    failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son.’I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’ So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
    There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
    Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

    When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.
    Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

    The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

    One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’ Just as sweetly, the boy responded,
    ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.’ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

    That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. Neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.


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