Better Senior Care in Senior Living Communities

Posted on June 14th, 2011

BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections

How Seniors Remain At Home:  The Village Movement is One Answer

According to AARP, 90% of people want to remain at home.  Yet, staying at home is challenging when needs increase and health declines.  As the aging demographic tsunomi continues the pressure on social services and alternative living communities will overburden a system which is already compromised.  The expense to both families and our society is astronomical.

The Village Movement

The grass roots “village” movement is one answer.  Run by volunteers, communities are organizing a neighbor-to-neighbor approach to help people stay at home.  Here is how it works:

•   Members of the village pay a membership fee each year.  Some villages are all volunteer, while others have paid staff.

•   Villages provide discount dues for the lower-income elderly

•    Some of the services villages provide are gardening, shopping, driving, and household repairs.  It fills in the tasks that often become difficult when a person ages.

•    The Village Movement is NOT a social service agency.  But, typically there are relationships with trusted providers of services such as home care and care management.

The Village Movement Evolution

The Village Movement began in 2001.  Beacon Hill Village in Boston was the very first.  This consumer-driven and consumer run Village has an executive director with unpaid volunteers and paid staff.  Interest in it was immediate and continues across the United States.  This year it partnered with NCB Capital Impact, a non-profit community development group, to launch the national Village-to-Village Network.  Met Life Foundation is one of the sponsors as is JP Morgan Chase.

The Village Movement Today and Into The Future

NCB Capital Impact reports that there are currently 54 operational villages with hundreds more in development.  Philadelphia’s Penn Village has been highly successful as it serves Old City and now other Center City neighborhoods.

The concept of neighbors helping neighbors was a cultural norm of an earlier time.  Harkening back to a gently, more friendly moment in our society, this grass roots cooperative living alternative has organically shifted people.  Caring for each other can generate the autonomy and freedom we all seek.  Neighbor-helping Neighbor – what a “new” idea!

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