There is a new take on the old adage “it takes a village”. Villages are an innovative concept allowing older adults to share resources and remain independent in their homes. The Village Movement began in the Boston community of Beacon Hill in 2002. It has grown into a large network of over 250 villages spanning across the country with another 100 in development. Villages are a creative answer to the question of how to remain in your own home safely and successfully as you age, instead of selling your home and moving to a senior housing community.
Villages are grassroots, nonprofit organizations based on the needs and interests of the community. A Village is run by trained and vetted volunteers and paid staff. They typically provide transportation, social and educational programming, simple home repair and yardwork and other non-medical services. They also coordinate access to affordable services, local resources and service providers. Simply put, they are neighbors helping neighbors.
Villages, however, are not just helping people survive; they are helping them thrive! Beyond offering support services for daily needs, they promote social and community connections and interactions. This is particularly vital as research shows that feelings of loneliness and isolation actually decrease our longevity. Villages help members continue to be productive, healthy, active, and vibrant. They also promote life-long learning and growth with members sharing their knowledge and skills and giving back to the community. The St. Louis Village, for example, has a Community Engagement Committee which is strategically and intentionally working for social change and a greater sense of community in neighborhoods impacted by long-standing inequalities. Village members are collaborating, using their professional skills, and learning and growing together.
So how does one join a Village? Simply check the Village to Village Network website and look for a village near you. Each village has membership fees, some on an income-based sliding scale. The Village to Village Network’s mission is to “enable community members to build and sustain thriving Villages”. To that end, the Network connects Villages members with resources, education and expertise. Don’t see a Village in your area? With the assistance of the Village to Village Network, you can work with your neighbors and community to build one and learn how to identify local businesses to partner with for resources that help with the challenges of aging. Whether joining a Village, volunteering for a local Village, or creating one in your community, you can change how aging is valued and lived.
RES Universal Design Team
If you are building a custom home or planning a remodel to prepare yourself to age in place, look to Residential Engineering Services + Design (RES) to lead you through the planning process. We are an experienced professional team with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), and we incorporate Universal Design concepts throughout our plans. Our design team will meet with you to plan, design, and engineer a home to live in for a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.