LAND O'LAKES — It all started with a nudist's search for an assisted living facility for her non-nudist grandmother.
"What's going to happen to me and my friends when we have to have heart surgery or a hip replacement?" wondered April Genter, a 46-year-old nudist real-estate agent whose primary customer base is others who share her lifestyle.
The fear of having to forsake familiar surroundings for a place in what they call "the textile world" has prompted a committee of residents from Pasco's nudist communities to examine the possibility of opening what could be the country's first assisted living facility for nudists.
It's a sign of the times as the age of the nudist culture continues to rise.
Hard statistics on age are difficult to obtain given the anonymity of some nudists, but the concern can be seen in the constant efforts to attract the younger set with special events and discounts.
"It's a real challenge," said Van Bradley, general manager of Lake Como in Land O'Lakes. Most of his residents are 50 and older, while members who live off-site but use the amenities are in their mid 40s and up.
The oldest nudist in Pasco is a reportedly a 90-year-old woman.
Still, nudism is big business in Pasco, which has long held a reputation as the nudist mecca of North America. Lake Como, Paradise Lakes and Caliente are the biggest players, with several more smaller places.
Local nudists relate stories of friends who had to sell their home or condominium when their health began to fail. Some were then forced to move away so their children could care for them. Some are estranged from their children because of their nudism, while others, like Marcia Stone, are childless and have no extended family to help care for them in later years.
"We want to stay within our culture," said Paul Brenot, president of the Pasco Area Naturist Association, also known as PANDAbare, a recently formed umbrella group representing the area's nudist communities.
The group's dream is to have an assisted living facility near or in one of the nudist communities so residents could continue to be connected with friends and use amenities such as the swimming pool for in-the-buff recreation and physical rehabilitation.
While such a facility would definitely be a first for Pasco, it also could be the nation's first.
"We don't have any at all, not to my knowledge," said Carolyn Hawkins, spokeswoman for the American Association for Nude Recreation, which counts about 260 member clubs.
Hawkins said such a place would likely draw interest from nudists all over.
"I would love to be able to know I had an ALF nudist environment to go to when I could not live alone," said Hawkins, 65. "You never know what you're going to face down the road."
Organizers are holding a meeting later this month to gauge interest in an adult care facility and begin doing research.
"We're a long way off from putting a shovel in the ground," Bradley said.
State officials say anyone wanting to open an assisted living facility must fill out a license application, have a building, complete land surveys from the state and the local fire marshal, undergo a sanitation inspection and have liability insurance.
As for nudity, "there is no statute or rule to address that," said Alberta Granger, manager of the assisted living program for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. She knew of no nudist ALFs licensed to operate in Florida.
For Gigi Greiffendorf, the idea of an on-site assisted living facility is intensely personal. Her 46-year-old husband has multiple sclerosis, is on medication and has no feeling on his left side. They're veterans but don't want to go to have to go to VA facilities.
"This is our home," she said. "We want to stay here."
Lisa Buie can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4604.