Creative Housing for Our Future Selves

The word creativity conjures up the arts for most of us and we tend to associate it with a creative product or the act of creating (painting, gardening, cooking, and writing). Many of us don’t consider ourselves creative because we can’t create an artistic piece.  Yet we’re all creative each day – choosing what to wear, choosing or preparing our meals, creating our schedules, creatively handling all types of decisions. Creativity really doesn’t get enough opportunity to stretch its legs.  You know what happens when you use your creativity to address issues and challenges in your life in an out-of-the-box manner: Creative problem-solving can be powerful, enchanting, fun, whimsical, breath-taking and even include an “aha” or two.

One area that begs our creativity is finding satisfying housing solutions as we age.  Our western cultural tendency is to live independently: on our own as single or coupled adults, with our families until the kids empty the nest, and then back to living alone, again coupled or alone.  Adult children are likely to live in a different city or busy trying to balance competing priorities. At some point, it might be when we’re in our 60’s,70’s, 80’s, or even 90’s, we start thinking about moving to a different residence, maybe a condo apt., a one-storey bungalow or a retirement home.  Usually it’s as a result of health or financial issues, or we want a lifestyle that offers more socializing and accessibility.  Often there’s a sense of loss and sadness – this may be our final move before the nursing home and it can be seen as a downhill slide to our final resting place.

But there’s an exciting opportunity here - to harness our creativity for healthier housing possibilities that we can look forward to realizing for ourselves.

What about creating new housing and co-housing models where you can live with your friends in the same apt or condo complex or even the same floor, or perhaps a group of friends build a shared, accessible, beauty-filled home?  Housing is not only about the physical space, it’s about the social and spiritual experiences it affords us. And as we grow older there are several changes that may occur and are important to consider with a creative housing idea:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased ability to use stairs
  • Decreased vision and/or hearing
  • Decreased balance
  • Changes to cognition and memory
  • Less driving - on the highway or at night or due to medications
  • Smaller social network as friends and acquaintances become ill or pass away

Isn’t it time to honour and respect our future selves and plan for a healthy, beautiful and safe living environment for our 90-year old self?

These are just seeds that I’m tossing out understanding that there are obstacles as there are with any idea yet hoping it generates some options outside the present housing box. Imagine the safety, health, security, connection, and comfort you could have in your home environment.  If necessary, caregivers, home care providers, drivers and other supports could be shared and/or used more efficiently.   What’s an ideal housing solution that would be great for you when you’re 60, 80, and 100 years old?

Creating a physical and social environment that cushions age-related changes seems a whole lot healthier and positive than the present-day options.

Our friends have similar interests and interests and may even share most of our history. Wouldn’t you prefer aging with friends than with strangers?  It offers a new and deeper appreciation for friendship and encourages us to keep making friends our whole life.  Who knows, they may be your housemates later on (again).  We just need to start planting the creative seed now.

Here are some related resources:

The Possible's slow fuse is lit By the Imagination. ~Emily Dickinson