Re: co-care agreements?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 06:36:22 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 30, 2017, at 5:40 PM, Mariana Almeida via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:
> Only feasible because the "old age" period was short, like 2 years and not 12 
> years, like it can be today. 

My mother has been in a nursing home, the wing with the highest level of 
nursing care for at least 10 years. She was in lower care for almost 10 years. 
For at least 5 years before that she needed frequent home visits to maintain 
her safety and comfort. Those 25 years (approximated dates) follow a period of 
5 years when her DNR order was not followed. She is so angry to be alive in a 
debilitated state that she is difficult behaviorally. Running into people with 
her wheelchair, for example.

The nursing home keeps her alive no matter what. She doesn’t recognize anyone 
she ever knew and cannot answer questions logically. 

The crisis is in understanding how to die. When do I pull the plug? It used to 
be determined by wealth — how much medicine can you afford?—and education — How 
much do you believe in medicine?

All of my mother’s four children had decided 25 years ago that she was like Mr. 
Magoo. She happily walked around the neighborhood and the shopping mall. When 
someone thought she was lost, they brought her home. Like Mr Magoo nothing ever 
happened to her. She was slowly deteriorating and we expected would die from 
some incident in her body/head occurred when her DNR was respected, or no one 
knew she had had a stroke or whatever. We had all agreed to that. 

After a fall and a stay in the hospital, the doctor committed her to a nursing 
home without her knowledge or the family’s. She would have to pass a test to 
remain home with part-day care or someone would have to accept full legal 
responsibility for removing her from her nursing home. None of us were able or 
willing to do that. She refused to keep a normal sleeping waking schedule, 
among other unique characteristics. And mostly she wanted to die.

A long preamble to saying that cohousing communities need to develop a theory 
of death if we want to be a cradle to grave community. The old one was that 
your body/mind decided when you died. The new one is that the health care 
community decides and short of instant death in an accident or terminal 
illness, they can keep you alive forever whether you like it or not.

Can cohousing develop a new theory of dying that allows people to live at home 
and die? Can we figure out when medical care is reasonable and when palliative 
care is more appropriate? And the neighbors and family not incur criminal 
charges if the person actually dies?

That’s the crux of things. 

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap 
of thinking you have something to lose." Steve Jobs

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