A new, rapidly growing “village” movement where seniors help other seniors in the same geographic area is gaining momentum across the country. According to The Fiscal Times, “Many different models are emerging, with 50 already in existence around the country and a whopping 600 in development.” “People who join Villages are planners,” notes Elinor Ginzler, senior vice president for livable communities at AARP. “The notion of either delaying or avoiding institutional care is exactly why these folks joined.”
The need for long-term care is expected to double between the beginning of this century and 2040, which makes village movements even more practical with the skyrocketing costs of institutional care and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
An “aging in community” program collects a very reasonable, annual fee to both coordinate and deliver an organized service package. This includes services such as transportation to stores and medical visits. People join for other reasons too, such as, for the social aspect, the parties, and the convenience offered. Discounts and savings are just an extra plus. As a result, isolation is reduced and seniors can remain safe and secure in their own homes.
One of the first and perhaps best-known village movements occurred in the venerable Beacon Hill district in Boston, Massachusetts, a 450 – member village that launched 10 years ago. The impact was immediate. Calls poured in from around the country; in 2007, the Beacon Hill Village shared their knowledge with 250 members of a national conference. Shortly after, villages began to pop up throughout the U.S.
Many members discover new social connections as volunteers in the neighborhood. The community aspect is a key reason for joining. Only a few of the Beacon Hill members need home health care, however, many members and their loved ones find it reassuring to know the people and resources that can help if and when such a need arises, whether the need is temporary (e.g. after surgery) or long-term.
In the Beacon Hill Village, the age of members range from 51 to 99. However, most tend to be in their early 70’s. How does pricing work at the original Beacon Village? There are two types of memberships: an individual, which is $640 a year, and a household at $890 a year. In addition, help is available for those who are struggling financially.