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It takes a village: Creatively aging in place

aging in place report cover

The Aging in Place Task Force issued a final report in January 2008, and it was endorsed by the Davidson Town Board. Click to download (PDF).

By SAUNI WOOD

commentaryIn 2007, Davidson formed the Aging in Place Task Force assess present and future needs of our seniors. After a year, the group submitted its findings and recommendations to the Mayor and Town Board in January 2008 in the Aging in Place Task Force Final Report. Though unable to provide any financial assistance, the Town Board endorsed the report. (See DavidsonNews.net, Jan. 8, 2008, “Aging task force offers a wish list.”)

After the task force’s presentation, it became clear that the work needed to continue. The issues were too important to its current and future seniors. A committee was formed from interested members of the Task Force and continues today as The Davidson Committee on Aging, recognized by the Town of Davidson. One of the measurements of an effective community is its commitment to all. We are pleased that the Town of Davidson has always shown such a commitment and continues to recognize our efforts.


From the beginning, both the Task Force and the Davidson Committee on Aging affirmed the tremendous opportunity to age in place provided by The Pines at Davidson, our own continuing care retirement community. Many of our seniors are there and continue to be a vital integral part of our Town.

At the same time, we recognized that not everyone in Davidson would or could go to The Pines. What choices were available to them without leaving town? The one possibility preferred by respondents to our community senior survey was to age in place – in their homes.

In the same survey, they expressed concerns about their ability to maintain their homes, to adjust their home to changing needs, find transportation when they could no longer drive , afford housekeeping assistance, home health care services, increasing taxes, cost of living increases, to mention a few.

Such concerns led us to research. We discovered many aging in place community efforts across the country that had been organized by seniors themselves, providing resources, services, enabling them to stay in their community. These community models inspired the committee to explore whether or not some of these models might work in our town, or to consider creating our own. Thus we agreed to share some of what we discovered. Thanks to DavidsonNews.net. We hope it generates some interest, an possible conversations.

FIVE CREATIVE MODELS OF AGING IN PLACE

BEACON HILL VILLAGE, BOSTON, MASS. – This model has been written about by AARP and others. Some refer to this model as an Urban Village. Beacon Hill Village was developed by Seniors who wanted to remain in their homes. They developed a non-profit corporation which provides an environment for older residents to come together to support the common desire to stay in their home and neighborhood as they age. The members pay an annual fee and/or volunteer their services to the village. The monies are used to provide services determined by the unique needs and resources of the individual members. Services vary but the basic ones typically include: meals delivered, transportation, house cleaning, referrals and discount rate for home repair and in home health services, shopping and delivery services. (beaconhillvillage.org)

WASHINGTON PARK, DENVER, COLORADO, a non-profit corporation that enhances the lives of people 55 and over in the greater Washington Park Area of Denver. Founded by residents of the community, their mission is to help neighborhood seniors connect with services and resources to continue life on their own terms, with dignity and independence, in their own home. They serve the greater Washington neighborhood. (washingtonparkcares.org)

COMMUNITY WITHOUT WALLS, PRINCETON, N.J. – This organization was started by four residents with a strong interest in the subject of aging in place. After discussions in the town, the group gradually grew to 100. They formed a non-profit corporation. This association of individuals and couples actively seek ways to remain in communities as they age and to assist the membership to find resources as needs change, i.e. assisted living situations. They organize the membership in groups called HOUSES. They meet regularly and decisions are made depending on the wishes/ issues of the particular group.(www.princetonol.com/groups/cww/)

VILLAGES IN WASHINGTON, D.C. – These villages in Washington used Beacon Hill as their model including the development of a non-profit corporation. Their goal was to make neighborhoods more comfortable places to grow old, not only for the elderly but for the baby boomers anticipating the future. Gramatan Village is one village among several found throughout the city. It is a non-profit corporation, They provide information and access to services so that as you get older, you may continue to live in your home safely and confidently. Services include: Transportation, health evaluations, home care at reduced rates, social and recreational services.

SENIOR COHOUSING/INTER GENERATIONAL HOUSING – Hundreds exist across the country, the closest being Asheville and Black Mountain. Co-housing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhood. They are consciously committed to living as a community. Sharing responsibility for tasks to be performed in the community where residents are in charge of management in a non-hierarchical style. There are 11 co housing sites in North Carolina. (www.cohousing.org)

JOIN US OR COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

The Davidson Committee on Aging welcomes responses to any of the articles posted on DavidsonNews.net, including this one. (See an archive under the “Aging in Place” tag.) You are welcome to join us every third Thursday of each month at Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. Mary Anne Hammond is chair.

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