The Village People: Aging in Place

I’m one of the village people.  No, I don’t sing “Y-M-C-A” and I definitely don’t dress like a cowboy.  Rather, I’m part of a new movement afoot to create virtual retirement villages in communities across the country to help people successfully age in place.

The first village was established at Beacon Hill in Boston (www.beaconhillvillage.org) in 2001, and since, over 50 have appeared across the US.  For an annual fee ranging from $25 to $600, 50-year-olds and older can join a network of neighbors that work together on a largely volunteer basis to allow residents to engage more fully in their communities.  Akin to a concierge service, each village is a non-profit that provides exercise classes, wellness seminars, transportation, household repairs, trips to museums and concerts, and more, mostly operating with grants, membership fees, and volunteers. Vendors such as plumbers or electricians, dog walkers and  home care providers are carefully screened and their work  is monitored by the local village for quality and safety.

“Villages are one way people can lead the life they want to live,” Mimi Castaldi, AARP vice president for volunteer engagement, told USA Today.  “They’ve caught the imagination of people.”  According to the article, baby boomers who are caring for their aging parents are driving the movement, looking for an alternative to retirement or nursing homes.  Peace of mind and the opportunity to have a parent age in place safely are the goals.

“I don’t think it’s the answer,” says the AARP’s Castaldi, but one in a string of good options.

“We think Boomers will change retirement,” she says. “They’re getting to the age where they’re thinking, ‘How do I want it to be for me when I get older?’ ”

Visit the Village to Village Network to learn more about the villages currently operating in the US.

On November 11th and 12th, I’ll be heading to Philadelphia for a conference on the village movement and I’ll share what I learn.

Do you know anyone who is part of a village today? At what age or under what circumstances might it make sense to join a village?

photo credit: amoeba.com

©2010 Circle of Life Partners™

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