Newsletter | Jul/Aug 2014

July Panel / Discussion on "Aging in Place"

by Janet Crane and Patty Haight

Our July event, a well attended panel discussion, focused on three aspects of aging in place and led to a lively group discussion. The meeting began with three excellent speakers addressing aspects of Aging in Place from the perspective of how communities can support this concept and how families and individuals can address its realities.

Jacqueline Zimmer Jones, Executive Director of NEXT Village San Francisco, introduced the concept of Villages, a national grassroots movement of neighborhood networks designed to enable seniors to age in their communities by offering engagement, connection and support. Next Village, based in northeast San Francisco, has been growing for about 4 years. Jacqueline underscored the benefits of NEXT Village, in reducing isolation, encouraging social interaction, and offering volunteer assistance when requested, for such tasks as getting to appointments, grocery shopping and attending NEXT's social and informative events. A neighbor within a few blocks' radius can take care of an errand and there is really no other service with this kind of flexibility.

The Villages are membership organizations. NEXT has received a grant from the City of San Francisco to encourage self-help models for the rapidly increasing senior demographic that doesn't qualify for services as low-income residents. NEXT Village's web site is

Janice Wallace is a consultant, "The Caregivers Coach", who helps families organize and manage the care of seniors who need assistance with their daily lives, including those with dementia. She talked about the stages of addressing the challenges of aging, getting realistic about the aging process, discussing it with affected family members over time, even in advance of need, and planning for the appropriate care. She stressed the all-important topic of avoiding burnout for caregivers, noting that it is impossible to do everything for a loved one with no respite. Her web site is

Architect Janet Crane discussed housing options for seniors facing the challenges of Bay Area housing: empty nest houses, expensive rentals, buildings on steep hills and with many stairs, rental units where Landlords are not amenable to adding features to help seniors. Janet touched on the simple improvements that anyone can make for safety; but at a certain point, moving may be necessary to smaller homes, special models like co-housing or senior housing of various models. There are a number of housing options developing, with the help of internet communication, such as shared housing. Groups are forming to brainstorm housing options for those looking for alternatives such as TTN Home, an East Bay group run by The Transition Network. San Francisco's Community Land Trust is looking at buying residential properties with generally low-income tenants to provide a way to maintain affordable rentals.

A lively discussion followed - showing that everyone has stories and experiences relevant to this topic - and a follow-up meeting will be proposed. Some exciting connections also resulted from the mix of attendees and presenters. Ricardo Gomes, Professor in the Design & Industry Department at SF State University, who attended, now plans to meet with Jacqueline Zimmer to collaborate on related projects for his class.

Many thanks to Andrea Lucas's husband, Tobin Kendrick, a partner at Gelfand Associates, for hosting the meeting at their very interesting office housed in the historic James Lick Bath House, a former community bathhouse south of Market. Tobin also generously offered us a tour of the space at the end of the evening.

Thanks to member Janet Crane for organizing the topic and speakers, and thanks to our Steering Committee Events Coordinators Patty Haight and Carolyn Orazi for coordinating all of our excellent events this year. ~Ed.

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