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It Takes a Village to Age at Home


It takes a village to age well and people are beginning to take creative approaches to ways in which they can remain healthy and viable members of their communities while aging at home. Elders have an arsenal of already established supports to help them remain at home, from home health and personal care services, to senior transportation, meals on wheels and more. However, many of these programs have criteria for participation or out of pocket costs. Most older people state they want to remain at home as long as possible and aren’t necessarily interested or attracted to assisted living, and certainly not nursing homes.

The Village to Village network began in Boston in 2002 with the idea of developing a “village as a group of like-minded people in a geographic area who come together to figure out and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes. Like Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), villages embrace the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services.” (www.villagesnw.org) For many elders, being a part of village to village can delay or even prevent a move to assisted living or nursing home care.

Today there are approximately 190 villages across the country and Australia and the Netherlands with about 185 additional villages in the development stage. Most villages rely heavily on volunteers and other members to provide services and support. Villages vary depending on community needs and available resources, but here is a partial list of how they can help folks stay at home as they get older:

  • Volunteers to assist with transportation.
  • Discounted home services.
  • Social, cultural, educational and wellness programs.
  • Peer to peer support.
  • Referrals to a screened network of service providers.

There is a yearly fee to become a part of the Village to Village network and the fee varies depending on the community. Fees range from the $300’s a year to over $900 a year.

Some communities are forming their own networks. An example is stayinginplace.org, a group of elders who want to keep their fees low so they have organized themselves in the community of Woodstock, New York and have opted not to be part of the Village to Village Network. They too have a similar model for adults aged 50 and over. From their website:

Helping adults 50 and older to maintain active, independent, fulfilling lives in their own homes.

  • You’re living on your own. Your health is good, but sometimes you worry about the future. Your children may live in another state, and you’re not sure whom you can turn to when everyday needs or major concerns confront you.
  • You love your home and neighborhood.
  • You don’t want to think about living anywhere else or being dependent on strangers.
  • The solution for you is right here in Woodstock and its surrounding communities.
  • Your neighbors have formed STAYING IN PLACE, our own non-profit membership organization inspired by the nationwide “Aging in Place” movement, the first of its kind in this part of the Hudson Valley.

It is difficult to know how many other communities are following a similar path of “going it alone” in an effort to support their elders at home, but certainly there are more out there. Here at mindfulaging we would love to hear your experiences with these go it alone communities as well those involved in Village to Village.

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