It Takes a Village to Age in Place

America is aging.  Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65.  By the year 2030, 19 percent of the population will be 65 or older.

With age comes disability. Indeed, 37 percent of individuals aged 65-69 report some disability, according to U.S. census figures. By the time people reach 80 years of age and over, the percentage rises to 71 percent, and among them, 29 percent require assistance with activities of daily living.

Despite an overwhelming preference to age in place (documented by AARP surveys) , many older adults reluctantly move to assisted living or nursing home facilities due to a lack of viable alternatives.

From my perspective, it’s really tragic to think that many people end up giving up their homes, lifestyles and independence because there is no reliable or consistent person (i.e., friend, family member) to help with some very basic but critical needs (e.g., arranging transportation).

Thankfully, there are resources that can help – and may mean more people can stay at home, where they want to be.

Enter the Village: Villages are grassroots, non-profit, membership organizations established by residents of an area. Their goal: Provide support services and opportunities to connect with others – and age in place.

Although each Village is organized in its own way, there are some commonalities among most of them that help members maintain their lifestyles and stay at home. Most Villages:

  • Provide one-stop shopping for services;
  • Arrange transportation and other services, usually delivered by volunteers; and,
  • Create community by organizing social and cultural events.

In many ways, Villages create a new form of “family” for older adults.

I am fortunate to live in a city that has a Village. North Shore Village, www.northshore-village.org, is relatively new. It began accepting members in 2010 and today, is flourishing.

Some people have joined because the support provided by the Village allows them to age in place, at home. Some join for the social opportunities the Village offers. Others, like me and my husband, have active social lives and do not need services now but want to support the Village so it will be in existence when we do.

To learn if there is a Village in your area, check out VtVN Directory – Village to Village Network.

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