I always knew she had terrific acting chops – in the 90s she was the voice of a puppet in an all-women’s music group, d’Cuckoo, that made music and just plain weird sounds using high-tech tools and props. Now, Linda Jacobson, former virtual reality whiz at Xerox PARC, is a senior care consultant for folks planning out their end game. In a way, applying lessons from high-tech to designs for aging well seems logical since assisted living could certainly get an assist from tech, including VR.
Today, Jacobson gave a talk with slideshow to the Last Friday Ladies Lunch, a monthly event I host at the Hillside Club, just off the gourmet ghetto section in north Berkeley. There’s always one man present, and today, Raines Cohen, a leader in the senior cohousing movement who used be a leader in the computer user group movement (A leader is always a leader.), participated in a lively discussion about options for aging as ourselves, not as patients, inmates, or defective beings.
What we learned was enlightening: if you’re poor or if you’re rich, there are lots of great options for assisted living, a business created recently, in the 80s, and run mainly by profit-making entrepreneurs. If you’re in the middle of the inequality seesaw, you’ll need at least $60K a year to book a room – or part of a room – in an assisted living place within the East Bay. More, if you want to live out in Walnut Creek or Danville. And don’t expect Medicare to foot any part of that expense.
Assisted living just covers room, board, and housekeeping functions as well as some community and cultural activities. If you need medical care, drugs, and anything else related to health, expect to pay extra.
Jacobson brought up alternative options to assisted living residences that are popping up all over, such as granny pods – little houses one can erect behind one’s house that in many states don’t need to follow zoning and building restrictions; senior villages, such as Ashby Village in Berkeley, which offer at-home services; small, assisted living houses, many of which are run by Filipinos in the East Bay; and senior cohousing.
Of all the choices for commercial residences, Jacobson waxed rhapsodic about Bayside Park in Emeryville. "It's like a cruise ship in port." But it can take years to get into a place like this, so if you feel the mind is starting to need a reboot, it might be time to sign up or at least talk to Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.