Interest in the “village movement” for aging in the community continues to spread across the country and state. A new village called Love Living at Home was recently incorporated in the Ithaca area. Rhinebeck at Home in the Hudson Valley also is a relatively new village. In Albany, Livingston Village is being developed by Senior Services of Albany in a public school recently converted into senior apartments. There are a number of villages in Westchester County and they are working with the Center for Aging in Place Services (CAPS) there which provides support. There are also villages in New York City, Long Island and some in the western part of the state. The Albany Guardian Society has hosted two meetings this year to provide information about how to develop villages. Those of us involved in these efforts are planning to pull together a networking conference call in September to share information and keep the various communities in touch.
The Village Movement became a national organization which is based in St. Louis. Its national website can be reached at this link below to get a look at the various organizations around the state and nation which have identified themselves as either formed or interested in forming a village.
The village movement began several years ago in Boston when Beacon Hill Village was formed by neighbors who wanted to join to help each other stay living in their homes or community. Dues were charged to provide a staff and some services though the models in each community are different and reflect the desires of the local group. In addition to the services provided, the connection to an organization run by the members builds a sense of community and support and reduces isolation and the feeling of not being able to manage the challenges of living at home and aging. Since the first village, the movement has taken off because of that local connection and hands on participation. However, maintaining a village is difficult and many face issues related to ongoing financing to support staffing and the usual turnover and “aging out” of older activists who were the original founders. Increasingly villages are being organized by existing non profits that can provide some on-going support though many still spring up as local efforts of community volunteers.
Of course, New York State has many other aging in place communities like the NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities) which are funded by the State Office for the Aging and the New York City Department for the Aging. NORCs in these government programs have definitions that were in legislation so they are not as open-ended as a local village might be. I have often said that the villages and NORCs provide another dimension of successful aging that complements the formal health care system and the formal aging network which provide services based on income and eligibility for the most part. It is critical to support and engage self help community groups as well as caregivers and volunteers.
It is important that the state continue to nurture and support the movement. Many people who have told me that their interest in villages was really stimulated by the conference held in Saratoga Springs in 2009, Empowering Communities for Successful Aging which was co-sponsored by the State Office for the Aging when I was Director.
If you are interested in being part of the September conference call, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure to forward your name on for a meeting notice to be sent to you.