I tripped over a couple of Aging in Place solutions today!
My colleague Marlene Zaborsky was telling me about how her neighborhood in Olney, Maryland coordinates the job of snow shoveling in advance of the winter snow amongst their neighbors. In addition, they also coordinate neighbors willing to take other neighbors in their homes in the summer if someone’s air conditioning goes out.
She really opened my eyes to how these are two key elements that can compromise someone’s desire to “age in place”. Last winter we had a huge storm in the mid-Atlantic. I realized that about a half dozen of the individuals I have interviewed for articles referenced being "trapped in their home" during the storm as one of the primary reasons they decided to make a move to a retirement community this year.
When the topic of aging in place comes up I immediately think about no-barrier entries, transportation programs, home health care, and personal emergency response devices. However, even the best designed environment and service network can fall short if you are isolated in a snowstorm or a 100 degree day without air conditioning.
Marlene’s neighborhood in Olney really presents one solution that can help, a system of neighbors that can reach out to each other in these two specific situations that will inevitably happen to many of us in select regions of the country.
As we move quickly toward a system to help neighbors live a lifetime in my town of Reston, Virginia with the Aging in Reston Initiative I can see how focusing on these two elements can make it easier to bring together those that might need help with those that want to help.
I think that this focus might advance "Aging in Place" as much as all the design and gadgets we have been writing about for the last 20 years! I hope the result is a better connected community and offering residents more of a choice in when and where they move instead of feeling like they HAVE to move for their peace of mind and safety.
So what are the chances that a few residents living in Chicago will make the move to retirement communities this summer!