Home' LOTL : January 2005 Contents LESBIANS IN THEIR LATE 50s AND 60s SEE
ADVANTAGES IN LESBIAN RETIREMENT
VILLAGES, BUT WOULD THEY CHOOSE THIS
OPTION? BY SYLVIA KINDER.
For some years lesbians across the western world have been
thinking about and establishing community and collective
accommodation for their old age. Some of these experiments
are simply converting a large building into independent units,
or buying a small group of units. Problems occur when one
lesbian wants to move out, goes into full care or dies. Some
lesbians house share, but these are mostly long standing
friends. Living in straight retirement villages can be much the
same as living in an outer suburb, which suits some lesbians.
For those with adequate superannuation or pensions,
staying in one's own home and paying for the ser vices needed
as one ages is definitely the answer. For those dependant on
state ser vices, home care may not be adequate if it cannot be
supplemented by care from family and friends. One lesbian in
her late 50s suffered a serious injury and became wheelchair
bound for a considerable time. The difficulties in getting
ser vices and the patronising manner in which these were
delivered raised serious concerns for her.
There are many versions of the retirement village. A popular
model is the one or two bedroom unit for independent living.
Often these are well appointed and in choice locations. If one's
health seriously deteriorates, supported care is available, and
there is provision to move into full care. There are advantages
with these retirement villages, particularly if one needs health
care. However it is difficult to get any money back after a
certain time, and the cost is around $3--400,000 to purchase
the initial unit. But if life changes and you want to move ... ?
Most of these villages may not be anywhere near where you
have been living and established your lifestyle. One woman in
her 60s living in such a village feels cut off from activities in the
city for older lesbians.
If there were lesbian and gay retirement villages would
lesbians buy into them? Certainly some would. Some thought
they would like to be in a retirement village for women. They
shared some political affiliation with gay men but had no wish
to live in close proximity, seeing lifestyle differences and
interests as too great. Would gay men want to share a village
Lesbians are not a homogenous group. Would lesbian
feminists find it enjoyable living in close proximity to
conser vative lesbians and vice versa? One stated advantage of
the gay/lesbian retirement village is the onsite facilities and
activities, based on the belief that mobility problems would
restrict participation outside. Could one village cater for our
very diverse interests?
For house owners downsizing is the first likely event. A
large house and garden is exchanged for a town house with
smaller courtyard, or modern unit in an accessible block or with
a lift. Frequently these new homes are in the same suburb or
near their former home. Other moves are to be near family, or
the sea change to popular retirement areas like the central coast
of New South Wales. One lesbian nearing retirement and living
in the city already visits her south coast home at weekends and
plans to retire there.
Apart from couples, sharing accommodation was not a
popular option. One lesbian now in her mid 80s lives alone in
the house she shared with her partner until she died some years
ago. She wants to stay there unless forced by serious disability
to go into full care.
This may well be the picture at present and for the near
future. But who can say how young lesbians of today will spend
their old age. Conditions will be different and hopefully
lesbians will organise to ensure they get the accommodation in
old age they desire.
For comments and suggestions call (02) 9745 6270
or email email@example.com
ALICE B. TOKLAS SPENT THIRTY-THREE YEARS WITH GERTRUDE STEIN BUT AFTER STEIN'S
DEATH WAS EVICTED FROM THE FLAT THEY SHARED FOR DECADES.
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