We need to “reinvent” our neighborhoods
I have been pretty focused on ways we can make our neighborhoods better for all ages. I personally feel this starts with a fundamental shift in the way we value independence in our culture. “Independence” is revered and receiving help from others can sometimes be viewed as a weakness, instead of a way we can connect with our fellow neighbor and create a more tight knit community. I also see that many are concerned about helping because they feel there might be “strings attached” to the jesture.
A recent radio broadcast of This American Life on NPR paints an incredible picture of this challenge we are facing as a culture. The segment that you REALLY need to listen to is Act One; Wary Home Companions. This tells the story of an elder with an adult child with disabilities. She looks into her crystal ball and is concerned about who will care for her son when she passes away. She goes through incredible lengths to create an environment for him to live “independently” and then she begins reaching out to the community for minimal help in the future. I am especially surprised at the response she received in a Senior Center!
Unfortunately, I think this story paints an accurate picture of our culture. For those of us with large families and networks of friends it might not seem possible. We need to make it easier for people to connect with our neighbors and set up systems that promote connectedness and interdependence.