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The age of uncertainty: How seniors are 'aging in place'

Original post made on Jun 3, 2023

A survey of Peninsula seniors commissioned by Avenidas of Palo Alto has found that most respondents desire to "age in place," or live in their own homes as they advance in age. Local seniors talk about their strategies for doing that.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, June 3, 2023, 12:33 PM

Comments (26)

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2023 at 7:38 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Has anybody addressed final needs? One gap happens to many couples when one departs this earth, and the survivor took care of all of the details so that their partner could die with dignity and plan ahead, knowing their other half would support their end of life decisions.

Not everyone has children. And not everyone who does have children, has good relationships with enough trust to depend on them when it's the survivor's time to go.

This happened on several limbs of my family tree. CA state law says that when an adult passes, the coroner's first call is to a surving spouse. If there isn't one, the next call goes to the parents -- if they're still alive. If there aren't any, the next people who get a call are children if any and if there aren't any, it could make its way to Bobby Joe Clyde, a cousin the departed hasn't seen in decades, who would LOVE to pay for final costs, but only after gaining access to the estate via probate. You can write a will, you can make a trust, you can fill out an AHCD and pre-pay for your funeral if you want. But if there's no one left that you trust after you have passed away, the State will entrust your wishes, your needs, your assets, and your final resting place in the care of Bobby Joe Clyde.

It's on my to-do list to create a 501(c)(3) corporation to establish an agency that can be trusted to carry out a person's final wishes without any costs, and without access to the decedent's bank accounts, just "a final favor for a friend" to act as health agent following strict rules written by the client, and if it all goes south and the client passes away, the agency would then make sure their remains are treated the way the decedent wanted it. The only hitch is, the client has to choose a prepaid funeral or cremation plan, and set it up as an irrevocable plan (so no one could ever cash it in), and the agency can't recommend a funeral parlor. In fact they wouldn't be accepted as a client without having that in place.

Posted by scott
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 4, 2023 at 10:19 am

scott is a registered user.

I often think about our two grandmas.

My wife's moved over from Kyiv late in life, never learned to drive, and settled in section-8 housing in San Francisco. Small, old, apartment right on a bus route across the street from Golden Gate Park. For as long as she was able to move unassisted out of her apartment, she was active outside her home and connected in the community.

My own grandma aged in place in a single family home in Walnut Creek. The day she was unable to drive, she was functionally a prisoner in her home. Fox News and the NYT crossword puzzle. That was her daily for more than a decade. She never sold the car. I think about that a lot.

I believe people should be able to do what they want. But, man... I don't want that to be me. I like my townhome in its little transit-desert, and hope to for a long time. But the second I can't bike anymore? I'm gonna need to find a condo in a downtown over a ground-floor cafe.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 4, 2023 at 11:33 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Scott - Note that Menlo Park has new buildings on El Camino, some with gound floor commercial. Also Redwood City has great new apartments near the Seqouia Station with gound floor commercial. Palo Alto needs to get on the ball and use El Camino as the residential location that other cities are using. High rise apartments/condos and commercial on the first floors.
But of course that means that someone in the state has to fix El Camino - it is fixed in San Mateo county.

Posted by scott
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 4, 2023 at 1:50 pm

scott is a registered user.

Thanks, Adobe, but El Camino Real is a car sewer. Gimme something over Cal Ave.

Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 4, 2023 at 2:34 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

Scott: There is a thing called Uber that will take you where ever you need to go, whenever you want. No car or license needed.


Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2023 at 3:12 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Scott, I think your grandma(s) experiences are becoming the new normal. My own had similar late-in-life limitations on transportation. We already know elders aren't safe walking in (supposedly) placid Palo Alto. Robberies in broad daylight will become more common as the population ages.

The first of my grandmothers to depart never drove. She traveled by foot, taxi or bus. Her husband had a steady job and a car, but preferred to walk. That gma of mine walked like a steamroller. Just kept chugging and it was hard to keep up with her. She didn't ever consider a leisurely stroll. just .. GET THERE. Her husband died relatively young, and she survived 25 years after he passed, getting herself where she needed to go.

My other grandmother was widowed for decades and drove until she was 93 when her right knee went out and never came back. She was very depressed that she couldn't drive herself where she needed to go. She was a talented seamstress and took up quilting. So she kept busy, but had to get a ride to pick up fabric or go to the grocery store. She outlived 2 of her children and chalked it up to eating the same things she grew up on -- fatty food and baked goodies. Has to be some truth in it. The kids who were still alive when she had to stop driving lived a thousand miles away. And her grandkids were always there when they needed money but scattered when gma needed help.

I think "aging in place" is a misrepresentation of what's happening in society. Families scatter, especially if a relative has special needs. Nobody can afford a nursing home, or assisted living. So of course, they have to age wherever they are when their legs or their car keys aren't there any more. I don't necessarily think it's a good thing to live to 99 if you run out of options on the way.

I don't think Uber is a good financial option. And ECR in Menlo Park, you might as well live on the moon. There's pricey retail close by, that's about it.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

Aging in place = another unintended consequence of Prop 13.

Posted by TripleLMember
a resident of Triple El
on Jun 4, 2023 at 7:36 pm

TripleLMember is a registered user.

American zoning laws that separate residential housing from commercial establishments are to blame for a lot of aging-in-place problems. My 94-yo mother lives in a single-family home that's 1.5 miles and a steep hill away from any retail and any public transportation. Without being able to drive and not facile with a smart phone, she relies on me or other relatives to take her shopping or on outings. She is effectively imprisoned in the house. My aunt returns to Taiwan and lives in an apartment tower where the lower floors have restaurants, cafes, and even a supermarket. Bus stops are on the streets next to her apartments. Some people want to "maintain the character" of their neighborhoods, but the resulting high housing cost means that their children can't live near them and the infrastructure is poorly designed for their aging-in-place.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2023 at 11:01 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@MyFeelz @Scott
“For the first time, said Barbara Carlitz, a member of the Avenidas board, Avenidas hired a national survey company to handle the results so that they could be compared nationally. Locally, of 52 areas of assessment, 38 were on par, 11 were above, and three were below national benchmarks.” Really Avenidas could not perform such a “survey” internally? & used precious non profit $$ 2 higher an outside source, while not in a capacity to ID affordability 4 risk senior “citizens”. The truth. What age is one considered & fed benefited as a senior “citizen”? I am considered by AARP & birth age, a senior at 59 years-of age. I have three biological school age children. Yet not eligible for housing in “senior” places because, I am HOH, single parent w children under 18. Too. many seniors are the sole care of their grandkids — the break in the bough of a family tree which @MyFeelz points out. Here is link 2 local BayAreaFuneralConsumers Association. Local PA 501(c)3 was started by Frank Duveneck & Quakers in 1952. They offer resources 2 death pre-planning YET not prepaying. Web Link The above article does not really address the inequity of life long wage earners who don’t get a penguin or even they’ve had a spouse no retirement. There are senior citizens who own SFH property who r liberal, generous & honest enough to down size, move 2 more efficient dwellings and then rent their larger Prop 13 1978 assessed 2% tax break to a local lower wage earner family 4 rent cost of 25 years ago, today — yet literally it is who you know, and how one connects and how much massaging the perspective tenant must do 4 professional trust. While there are many widowed senior citizens living solo in very large homes in PA dependent on the P13 tax shelter and cannot go anywhere because their kids (if any) could not live here & r on other costs 4 cost reasons. Heads up! seniors like AI is coming fast. I walked home at 10pm in CT, 3 living in autos. Wage up!!

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2023 at 12:02 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Scott totally agree about build up in Cal Ave area — where a 1/3 is a fallow deserted desert commerce & community — for Lease! Signs abound. This includes NV area. The issue that severely inhibits & prohibits building quality, climate friendly, assessable transit oriented homes 4 multi generation/family/all ability/incomes is ... wait for it ... the 10 PANA’s who are a huge lobbying force behind the “virtual” gated wall of PA! Wage up to the disparity between those who have the security of a home & those on the very ledge of nowhere. I keep reinventing the same. The qualifiers for renting is now like buying. Like the Federal poverty line that’s been used 2 up the anti of living, the 30% federal rent guide line is a bogus number landlords advertise 2 qualify renting properties. Meaning, unless you can not only pay the asking rent, must also prove 3 times wages 2 asking rent. The federal 30% rent guideline is erroneously discriminating normal wage earners from attaining a decent home 4 themselves & loved ones. When wages r 30% below the cost of living, adjusted 4 inflation, evolving recession numbers — 80% of us will never b able to prove 3 X wages 2 asking rent. It’s a scam & property estate scheme. As much as denying larger families renting in 1970’s & 80’s x number of bedrooms offered in a house (which my mom was denied many times: too many kids) . Now we have a trifecta of inequities: larger multi generation families piled up in 1-2 bedroom apartments, landlords demanding proof of unequal income to outlandish above market rents 4 sub par, outdated, nearing dilapidation, multi family dwellings. Sometimes rented w/out a fridge or stove — also denying co-signers, any subsidized rents in social security, retirement, child support, disability SSI, or choice vouchers. The schematic is lopsided as is 98% of the wealth at the top 2% of economy. Snare & Delusion ! Unequal corruption disruption!

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2023 at 1:09 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@MyFeelz there are so many deep & meaningful posts, yours. One of my family vanished in Marin County in 1985. He. unhoused & I knew nothing but unknowing of someone not much older than myself- I loved. And helpless, afraid watching a despair. He b gone & I am here. Yet where? Trapped in a crappy profit driven housing agreement b/tween 4 powers: Stanford, PA, Related, Seque, Baker Assoc: not a storage closet 4 broom, vacuum, fresh linens. No ADA ht counter-tops? Unworkable “common” laundry. Why do I &other seniors have 2 heave wet laundry above & into over dryers? Why concrete floors where wet undies fall 2 a floor? Why deny us storage 4 holidays? Because every 1/4” of material used 2 “finish” our units was a subtraction 2 living & evolving human life among PA. Every 1/4”, maximized 4 profits & every 1/4” was minimized 4 comfortable human habitation. Bone cold in winter & concrete on top of a parking lot—heats the summer days 10 degrees above shade. Even supplying a simple hand louver air vent, denied! 7 washers 4 175 tenants. Miraculously, after 4 1/2 yrs of tepid water, boilers replaced. water lines cleared of maggots. While Stanford got their 164 “Stanford Terrace” units on Cal Ave, the City got a soccer field. 70 units of deeply needed poor family living is barely anything — we were sacrificed 4 profit. No public park or playground near, overflowing on-site trash, no access 2 our community. No regular posted, on site manager hours. Broken washing machines. Many hard working, church going families live here! Yet the filth because of cheap materials used 2 build, ECR pollution, an oppressive Related lease management, 17 pages of yearly tenant recertifications 4 Related’s multi billion dollar TAX credit = overwhelming. All of the Fair Housing breaches!! no safe, designated residential parking. What & how Related, Stanford, Palo Alto, David Baker, Segue ran w & away from, despicable! David Baker’s et al curb appeal reeks of Hamlet’s Denmark. Hourly wage workers deserve better quality of life & build & integration.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2023 at 3:22 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Elizabeth Lorenzo
“many seniors r living in their original homes in Mid-peninsula, often large & become difficult to maintain. Paying for . One of the survey results was a concern about home repair & maintenance. So, Avenidas has recently beefed up its home maintenance program, teaming up with Palo Alto's Hassett Hardware (Ace) to create a handyman program made up of current and former Ace employees available to help seniors.” Huh? It appears surveys hired outside Avenidas community pod zeroed in on home owners. Not. Senior citizen renters who climb multiple stairs w groceries, or have 2 step up & over into showers, access laundry 100’s ft away, r greatly challenged, now. Yes. As well as fearful of retaliatory of ”lease violations” 4 having a patio plant — advocating common sense age related needs: bathroom grab bars, replacing cheap rolled worn out carpet. Yes. Is it understood Reasonable Accommodation (RA) Fair Housing laws. City appears clueless. Seriously, 70% of rental stock in PA does not have forced air cooling systems. Or even ceiling/attic fans. The infrastructure of rentals acts on a 1978 P13 property enviro. Yet charges in futures against current property values. So essentially a tenant is paying 120% above of assessed 1978 property tax value. Before 1978 landowners were shuddering at fast increasing property tax. Yet now, two generations later landowners are gifted a tax haven & gauging renters w higher costs associated w such things as access to a view of a park, designer paint, ceiling fans “throughout”. This one shocks me to no end: W/D unit on site. Stinging every inch of space: a pet $100 more, ceiling fan $100 more, space to hang laundry $100 more, HOA fees $500 more. On site parking $200 more, PAUSD school access, $300 more, a view of the moon $200. Now Ace Hassett will have a high school student in your home 2 access a hand rail or cold water wash. Give you a LED light bulb. PA refuses 2 partner or yes, burned it’s bridges years ago!

Posted by Donna Whitcomb
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 5, 2023 at 8:38 am

Donna Whitcomb is a registered user.

Most of the seniors I have encountered prefer to live out their remaining years in their personal and private residence.

Sometimes a part-time caregiver can handle the miscellaneous errands and drive them to the doctor's office and accompany them while shopping.

To many elders, being forced to live in a skilled nursing or memory care facility is a fate worse than death, akin to a older dog being sent to the pound.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2023 at 2:08 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Read Dr. Atul Gawande’s brilliant book
Being mortal
Highly recommended

Posted by Logan Wylie
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 6, 2023 at 10:30 am

Logan Wylie is a registered user.

Given the past four years and where we are seemingly headed, I have no real desire to live past 80.

The future of the world now belongs to the Millennials and Gen Zers.

And given the overly progressive perspectives, lack of noteworthy cultural contributions, and overall immaturity of these two lost generations, why would any sane Baby Boomer or Gen Xer want to live in a deteriorating world?

Posted by Isabel Morales
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 6, 2023 at 2:53 pm

Isabel Morales is a registered user.

I would like to be young again but not in today's environment. Being 20-something during the late 70s & early 80s is a far cry from being 20-something today.

Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2023 at 9:21 am

Neilson Buchanan is a registered user.

It is helpful to consider the size and complexity of the baboy boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Boomer ages range roughly between 60 and 80. There is no one way to summarize their needs and wants. Just google "Age Wave" or "Pig in the Python"!

More constructively think about the inter-generational politics.

If you are not a baby boomer, then your parents or grandparents are. When you define senior citizens, remember the adult children in the equation.

Too many false conclusions and accusations are being made as inter-generational conflict arises. Too much smoke and not enough light.

Years ago Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995) arose as a leader of "Grey Panthers" and increased public discourse and understanding. Her clarion voice is missing today.

Posted by KJH
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm

KJH is a registered user.

I am so grateful that I have choices. We are fortunate when we can make choices that work for us and our own unique wants and desires.

Posted by TerryR
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2023 at 5:58 pm

TerryR is a registered user.

Why does everything Avenidas publishes about aging make it sound like "aging in place" is the only acceptable choice? And why does a senior have to make a single choice, rather than planning a progression like aging in place until a criterion is reached (perhaps physical or cognitive disabilities) and then moving to something else?

Donna (above) says that being in a skilled nursing home or memory care facility is a fate worse than death to many seniors. One might also think that being isolated at home with perhaps one other person sometimes there could be much more horrific than being in a congregate facility. What's wrong with going back to dorm living? Just plan ahead and find one you'd like.

Avenidas, please support people in a variety of choices. I've met many very happy people who've moved to senior communities that offer a progression of care. My father lived in very nice assisted living and memory care facilities in his last years (with lots of support from his kids). Those choices can work just as well for some seniors as aging in place. Please encourage people to make their own choices without so much prejudging, and support them in all of the choices.

(And by the way, seniors moving out of family homes into smaller spaces can also do a bit toward easing our area's housing problem.)

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2023 at 8:29 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Terry those senior communities are what a friend of mine calls "move-along communities". First they move in and enjoy the leisure activities, and then when they can no longer take care of themselves they move along to an adjacent (or place owned by the senior community) that's assisted living, until they move along to hospice. They are the most expensive option, thus out of reach for the majority.

"What's wrong with going back to dorm living?" -- everything.

I didn't scrimp and save and plot my financial course to end up living in a dorm room at 85. It was bad enough the first time, when I was young and spry. It wasn't that annoying listening to my roommate humping his girlfriend while I was trying to sleep. But having to listen to all of the noises that emanate from elderly bodies is NOTHING like living in a dorm. At school, there was hope -- of graduating, and moving on. That doesn't exist in your dorm scenario. Nobody graduates, they just die.

Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 9, 2023 at 10:51 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

@Terry R: Avenidas has many services and activities, ONE of which is Avenidas Village, specifically organized to help seniors age in place. That's the mission of the Village, not Avenidas. You are not the only one to get them confused.

Posted by Heloise Jensen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2023 at 12:51 pm

Heloise Jensen is a registered user.

Some seniors are best served residing in a skilled nursing home, others are not.

It all depends on an elder's ability to handle the chores and responsibilities of everyday life.

Posted by Bill Taylor
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 10, 2023 at 2:45 pm

Bill Taylor is a registered user.

Despite certain conveniences, I would not like to spend my remaining years among the feeble and soon to be deceased. Too depressing.

My aunt passed away at an assisted care facility and the mortuary came by around 3am to retrieve her corpse so as not to upset the other tenants with this recurrent event. You will never see a gurney and hearse during regular hours at these places.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2023 at 6:54 am

Annette is a registered user.

Adding: the cost of long term care insurance. What a boondoggle. My mother paid for that for years. At first she needed a caregiver only to help with daily chores that were more difficult as her mobility lessened. During that period, the quality of caregiver and the "lapses" when the service didn't have anyone to send were no big deal. But when she needed significant assistance, the no-shows were another matter altogether. And the rotation of caregivers resulted in one day/week that a capable, compassionate person was on duty. We ultimately supplemented with private care which was extremely expensive. Seniors are vulnerable and, sadly, there are too many people and businesses that take advantage of that. The Village is an excellent option up to a point. As a society we need to evolve our approach to late-in-life and end-of-life. Money is a HUGE factor in this. LTC gobbles money and warehousing the elderly and infirm is an approach void of compassion.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2023 at 2:05 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

My parents downsized to a two-story condo from their suburban home when they reached their mid-seventies. Discarding home maintenance gave them time to enjoy more walks together, sailing, tennis, golf, travel, time with grandchildren. Ten years later, we lost Dad. Mom was left alone in the condo. Though she had neighborhood friends, they were busy and didn't always have time to check on her. We lived on the opposite coast, so our visits were less frequent than I'd have liked. It took some time to help her decide to move to a senior apartment with options for advanced care. She later said that move was the best thing she did after Dad died. In the apartment building she had a Bridge Club, exercise classes and a library where she and her reading buddies would gather to talk politics and hold book club discussions led by a resident retired Harvard librarian. They brought in students who were studying at a nearby music school to play concerts. They had movie and discussion nights. They had a garden club. She was so happy there. I will always be grateful that she found this community. It made the end of her life a happy time, full of dear friends, activity and lively conversation. Many of her new friends attended her packed funeral. Leaving home can be a good thing at any age. Bless you, dear Mom.

Posted by Nanette Grissom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2023 at 10:22 am

Nanette Grissom is a registered user.

Caregivers are poorly paid and given the depth of their overall responsibilities, many are indifferent and just putting in the time.

The caregiver agencies are the ones to blame because they are the ones taking and making most of the money being paid for these services.

And the same can be said of most employees at rest homes and skilled nursing facilities. It is ownership doing the rip-offs, not the liw-paid workers.

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