Community Retirement: The Neighborhood You Dream About

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The Village Movement is prompting communities to think about creative solutions for aging in place.

Imagine you are living in a community where you know your neighbors. Imagine that your patio needs weeding, and you prefer not to do it. In this neighborhood, a simple phone call can have someone over to take care of your weeding. Perhaps you need some home repairs, or you are returning home from the hospital after surgery and need some assistance. In this neighborhood, you can get assistance from trusted volunteers and providers with one phone call. This type of neighborhood is becoming a reality, and the Washington, D.C. region is the launching pad for several.

How it all started
Nearly 90 percent of Baby Boomers say they want to stay in their homes and close to family and friends as long as possible, according to a survey by AARP. The challenge these individuals face, however, is that if they do nothing to prepare for future needs, they may not be able to continue living in their homes as long as they would like.

Residents of Beacon Hill, a downtown Boston neighborhood, responded to the challenge of staying in their community by joining their neighbors to take control over where and how they will live in the years to come. They formed a non-profit, Beacon Hill Village, which serves those aged 50+ in central Boston, to take advantage of social, cultural and wellness activities without leaving their homes. The various services provided are designed to respond to the members’ specific needs and wants which include concierge services, comprehensive home care, home repair, house cleaning, grocery shopping, transportation and other services.

Where it is going
In 2007, Beacon Hill Village sponsored a workshop which community leaders from 27 states attended. The Village to Village Network has been formed to offer leaders the opportunity to share resources and connect. There are now dozens of groups at various stages of development in the Washington metro region and they have formed a group, Washington Area Villages (WAV), that meets regularly.

Customized to the neighborhood
The design and implementation is customized to the needs and wants of the specific neighborhood. Most of these groups have done informal and formal research to determine what the members want, and are designing their program to address those needs. Consequently, no two programs will be exactly the same.

According to Vice President of the Palisades Village Group, Alicia Juarrero, the interest stems from the bottom-up effort of these communities. “One thing we believe in is that before doing anything else, organizers must query eligible neighborhood residents on exactly what services they want and need,” she said.

DC Area Villages and Aging in Place Models        

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