Today, The Washington Post and Kaiser Health News jointly published an article I wrote on aging in place villages–an important element in the effort to help seniors remain in their communities.
There are close to 50 villages now operating around the country, and at least 600 communities interested enough to send representatives to workshops held over the past year by the non-profit community development group NCB Capital Impact.
Villages come in many shapes and sizes, but there are three basic models. One, pioneered by the Community Without Walls in Princeton, N.J. is an all-volunteer group, with modest dues (just $30 for a couple). Beacon Hill Village in Boston relies on a professional staff, provides concierge services to link members with vendors (for services from home health aides to plumbers), and charges substantial dues. The third model, created by the Maryland non-profit Partners In Care, is based on the concept of time-banking. In this design, members receive credits for their volunteer time which they, in turn, can exchange for the help of other volunteers.
Different models may work in different communities. But the key to the success of the village movement will come from their bottom-up, community-based nature: Local people pulling together to help one another as they age. It is a powerful concept with a promising future–both for elders and for adult children caring for our parents.