Aging with alpacas: Coldstream residents seek to build farmhouse-style seniors’ residence

Two Coldstream residents – who live on a farm with their 38 alpacas – are planning a unique project that would create a peaceful space for the elderly.

Wendy Niklaus and Alfons Grabosch are the plan’s developers, with a launch target of fall 2023, and told Black Press Media that the concept will model similar projects in Scandinavia and Germany.

“I’m 70 now and we asked ourselves, what do we do when we can’t do the hard farm work anymore, but we want to stay with our animals,” Grabosch said.

Grabosch, a retired surgeon, and Niklaus, a retired nurse, each have decades of clinical experience in Germany and Abu Dhabi. They moved to Canada in 2015 and set up their alpaca ranch in Coldstream soon after.

The hope is to provide independent and assisted living for the elderly in an ecological and sustainable environment.

Upon arrival, they noticed that much of British Columbia’s aging population was made up of farmers with children who had moved to urban centres.

“We want to give seniors the opportunity to spend the last years of their lives with animals in a small community of like-minded people,” he said.

The hope is that older people will take on projects for as long as they are able, such as gardening, knitting and chores around the farm.

Alpacas play a central role in the plan because they make great therapy pets, according to Grabosch.

“They have very friendly habits and a cute demeanor, they really encourage and improve the quality of life of the people around them.”

The first step for the couple is to find another land that can accommodate them and is properly zoned. Second, they hope to staff the farm with competent health workers.

The couple said they have already received verbal support from the city and the province.

They are currently looking for investors who will see dividends on any profit made by the farm.

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