Thursday, March 17, 2022
According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, Despite Seniors’ Strong Desire to Age in Place, the Village Model Remains a Boutique Option, "[t]wenty years ago, a group of pioneering older adults in Boston created an innovative organization for people committed to aging in place: Beacon Hill Village, an all-in-one social club, volunteer collective, activity center, peer-to-peer support group, and network for various services. Its message of “we want to age our way in our homes and our community” was groundbreaking at the time and commanded widespread attention. Villages would mobilize neighbors to serve neighbors, anchor older adults in their communities, and become an essential part of the infrastructure for aging in place in America, experts predicted." Fast forward to now. where even though "there are 268 such villages with more than 40,000 members in the U.S., and an additional 70 are in development ... those numbers are a drop in the bucket given the needs of the nation’s 54 million older adults. And villages remain a boutique, not a mass-market, option for aging in place."
What exactly is a "Village" you ask? The article explains the concept: "[they] share common features, although each is unique. Despite their name, physical structures are not part of villages. Instead, they’re membership organizations created by and for older adults whose purpose is to help people live independently while staying in their own homes. Typically, villages help arrange services for members: a handyman to fix a broken faucet, a drive to and from a doctor’s appointment, someone to clean up the yard or shovel the snow. Volunteers do most of the work." They also offer educational and social events and facilitate introductions to other residents of the village.
The question posed by the article is whether this concept can have widespread acceptance and adoption with various socio-economic groups, especially given their costs. The article discusses some options pursued by existing villages, in addition to discussing the hurdles.