For Seniors, It May Take a Village
Want to stay in your home? Don’t want to depend on your kids or neighbors? Try a Senior Village…
Fifteen years ago, a vision called Senior Villages started in Boston’s Beacon Hill area. This first village launched in 2010, but the idea has spread across the country. Their goal is helping seniors age in place, in their homes or apartments. These are not adult living communities. In Senior Villages, seniors remain integrated into the community, not sequestered in seniors-only housing.
They are non-profit organizations dedicated to helping seniors, especially in urban areas stay in their homes by organizing to provide needed services and resources along with opportunities for connecting socially. Seniors organize themselves. They vet a group of volunteers who are critical for tasks such as transportation to the grocery store, banking, or doctor’s visits, calling seniors wellness checks or other needed services. Seniors have organized exercise groups, groups that plan theater and other cultural outings, group dinners and game night. The services provided are only limited to the group’s imagination and the resources they can muster. Volunteers in some villages provide computer help, exercises in a one-on-one setting or group. Some have a ladies night, getting together for cocktails at an agreed upon bar or restaurant. They contract as a group for services such as roofing repairs, plumbing, electricians, etc. Most groups charge annual dues to cover the organizational costs. Members are screened and volunteers are vetted.
Village To Village Network Organization has sprung up as a central hub providing organizational experience, networking and templates for successfully starting and maintaining a Senior Village. A core group of people in Virginia, wanting to help sustain and grow the movement, contacted the originators of the concept in Boston. From that came the umbrella organization, Village to Village.
Their website claims, “there are currently 200 Senior Villages in the U.S. with and additional 150 in development.” The model Village is “One Stop Shopping: Villages do anything their members need to age safely and successfully in their own homes.” Their site includes a map showing operational villages and villages in start-up mode. They also have tools for vetting volunteers and screening questionnaires for membership. In November of this year the group plans their 9th annual conference in Baltimore. .
The Pacific Northwest has also entered the movement. The Village-to-Village map shows an active groups in Seattle in the Capital Hill area. Bellevue and Bainbridge Island have groups in development stages. In the south end there is one in development in University Place, WA.
Portland has several, the oldest being Eastside Village. Here is a link to their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/EastsideVillagePDX/https://www.facebook.com/EastsideVillagePDX/
Eastside has grown so large geographically, that it is bigger than the norm. Other villages are springing up in the Portland area. There are active villages in Hillsboro and Beaverton, OR.
The movement has grown. In fact 45 states now have open villages or in-development villages. The map shows Hawaii and Alaska each have one, two are active in Australia and one in Nova Scotia.
Do you have organizational skills? Do you want to help the elderly? Do you have a skill set you want to keep using? Start a Village!
Because villages originate at the grassroots level, one person or a small group starts the organizational process. Village to Village Organization offers help for you at whatever phase of development, from, “I just thought of it.” to “We are almost ready to open.” This is their website. http://www.vtvnetwork.org. The site includes other videos by actual groups and members and weekly webinars. It is stirring, watching the excitement in those busy planning an organization and touching watching those whose lives are changed by being able to stay in their homes.
I think it’s a great idea. I’m guessing there is a lot of variability since each group organizes itself. That is probably a good thing since we as people have regional differences and each region has a culture. We all have the same goal, though. We want our last years to be productive, we want independence, and we want to age with as much dignity as possible.
What do you think about Senior Villages? Could you see yourself or a loved one participating in one?
Have a great caregiving weekend.