It Takes a Village – Most of us would prefer to spend our retirement years comfortably at home rather than in a care facility. But, the older we get, the more likely we’ll need support and assistance to do so safely and comfortably. Indeed, a study issued not too long ago indicated that as many as two-thirds of seniors (65+ years) need help from either a person or a device, such as a cane or walker, to conduct daily activities.
There are many medical, environmental and cognitive factors that can limit a senior’s ability to continue living independently. Over time, daily tasks such as walking, dressing, bathing, making meals, managing finances — even getting into and out of bed — can quickly go from minor inconveniences to requiring Herculean efforts to eventually becoming insurmountable challenges to the senior on their own. That’s where family and professional caregivers become of paramount importance.
Research shows, however, that our immediate family and circle of friends may not be up to the task. The population of senior citizens is poised to swell dramatically in the next two decades, and the availability of family members to care for their own simply won’t keep pace. Fortunately, necessity truly is the mother of innovation, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the growth of the Village model of community-based support for aging.
The movement is coordinated nationally by 160 independent villages in part, by The Village to Village Network (VtV), whose mission simply is to help seniors to help themselves so that they can remain longer in their homes. Established in 2010, the concept was inspired by the 2001 launch of a “village” in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood by a group of older residents determined to work together to find the support they needed to stay in their homes and avoid moving in with their children or an assisted living facility. Their solution: Create a non-profit organization — a “Village” — that they all contribute to by way of an annual fee. The pooled funds can then be used by the Village, as needed through concierge-type services to provide support and caregiving services the members need, such as transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities, etc.
The Village model is growing in popularity, with more communities looking to emulate the early pioneers’ success. Today, more than 160 villages exist nationwide, with another 120 additional villages under development. Approximately 20,000 senior citizens are currently village members, and their number continues to swell, doubling every two or three years.
Being able to age in place at home is beneficial, but being able to do so as part of a community, with access to all the resources and services you need, is ideal. As an organization focused on helping seniors successfully age in place, CareLinx wholeheartedly supports the village care model and is proud to play its part in helping older Americans stay in their homes with the assistance they need and with the comfort, dignity, and contentment they deserve.
CareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik