Monday, December 1, 2014

It Takes a Village

     It was Hillary Clinton who told us that "it takes a village" to raise a child. And I think she was right. What we should also realize is that it takes a village to support us in our old age.

     I saw an article in this weekend's New York Times called Retirees Turn to Virtual Villages for Mutual Support, by Constance Bustke. The piece explains how a new organization called a "virtual retirement village" can help seniors access resources and develop social connections to make it easier to age in place. A village is a local, membership-driven organization that posts information about affordable services involving health and wellness, transportation, home repairs, and social and educational activities. Most villages charge dues, but they are non-profit organizations.

     The article focuses on the Capital City Village, in Austin, Texas, along with a couple of other villages in New England where the idea originated. Capital City Village provides referrals to over a hundred member-recommended service companies, and to dozens of volunteers who are on call to help out with dog walking, yard work, and other homeowner needs.

     The village also hosts social activities such as concerts, restaurant gatherings, lectures, group trips. The whole idea of the village is to support the 90 percent of seniors who want to age in place rather than go into an independent or assisted living facility.

     There are more than 120 active villages around the country, with over a hundred others in development stages. They are supported by the Village to Village Network, a consortium of villages that offers background information on what villages do and how they work. There's a page on the website that offers advice and support if you're interested in starting a virtual retirement village in your own community. Most importantly, there's a membership directory where you can locate a village near you.

     If you go to the website, click on Village Map in the upper right section of the page, then select your state and hit search. You will get a list of local villages with contact information. Some of the organizations -- they have a variety of names often alluding to "At Home" or "Aging in Place" or "Good Neighbors" or "Connections" -- are members of the virtual network (which offers special benefits), others are non-members, and some are still in development. I looked up my state of New York, and found two dozen listings -- one in my own hometown and several others nearby.

     Virtual villages is a grass-roots movement that seems to be addressing some of the crucial issues involved in growing older in our own communities. As one of the Times sources, Dr. Marc Agronin, a psychiatrist in Miami, says, "Having a local network of people to engage with opens up whole new worlds. It's about discovering your strengths and the joy of living."
    

13 comments:

Juhli said...

I think this concept will grow and will really help baby boomers age in place. We are looking for a location that has one or other aging in place initiatives.

gigihawaii said...

Sounds appealing.

Karen D. Austin said...

This model looks very interesting. I hope the idea catches on.

Olga Hebert said...

Interesting. Of course I live in a village, but not this kind of concept village.

Stephen Hayes said...

An interesting idea. I'm glad to hear that people are addressing living conditions for the aging Baby Boomer population.

Bob Lowry said...

That's a great idea, and very much needed. I had not heard of virtual villages before. Thanks, Tom, for bringing it to my attention.

Douglas said...

It wasn't Hillary Clinton but an old African proverb which provided that advice, Hillary just used it for a book title.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Some villages are more organized than others. Ours is informal and has small children and folks of every age. Heck David at 85 isn't even the oldest resident.

I agree with Douglas about the book title, except the likelihood is Hillary didn't even come up with the title. Some editor did that.

DJan said...

I think this is wonderful. I'll check out that link, Tom. Thanks for all you do to make me more informed. :-)

retirementallychallenged.com said...

Thank you for this information. I think I heard about it awhile ago but never followed up. I believe there might be a few villages where we live. My husband and I don't have children so something like this is even more important. Maybe I should start a village on our street - there are several of us retired types here.

June said...

I expect I'll enter into retirement as I have entered into every other phase of my life -- with no preparation and no planning. But should I decide to grow up and provide a framework for myself, this will be helpful information. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I watch out for the little ones in my neighborhood of course I live where there is a high school and it looks to me that most of those kids will be criminals someday..No parents in the home and no parental or grand parental guidance, so sad, we pay for the public schools and it pains me to see how many can not get a break to college and have to work like the dickens to support families while in high school, they tell me plenty..I think some parents should be brought up on parental abuse, who doesn't feed their kid breakfast and wonder if they ever even go to school many do in my village..There is a walk way kitty corner from our home and front yard the kids make it to this walkway and that is it, we had to hire two Vietnam veterans to patrol paid for by donations to make sure no drug activity was still going on, only two walk ways to the school Many residents thought they could get it removed it is a public access to a public high school...I learned a lot in 36 years of living here I would never buy a home by a high school again, we are retired and stuck but when we have to move which it might be soon to warmer climates it will not be by a public high school or any school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dick Klade said...

Virtual villages are a great idea. Wish we had one in our area. But there can be alternatives approaches that get good results. A resident of our community has started a neighborhood web page where people can post requests for service info or advertise services. It is just developing, but is picking up many users and holds promise for developing into a very positive thing, especially for elders.