Village Movement Grows in Albany Area as Research Shows “Positive Friendships” Are Key Characteristic of “Blue Zones”

The Albany Guardian Society has organized a Capital Region Villages Collaborative to promote the development and networking of “villages” in the region.  Last fall, the Guardian Society sponsored a conference that attracted about 200 persons to discuss the village concept and aging in place or the community of your choice.    The Guardian Society also submitted a proposal that was funded by the New York State Office for the Aging to provide a small amount of money to support organizations promoting villages.  Community Caregivers which serves most of Albany County received funding as well as a group in Shenendehowa, Saratoga County, another group in northern Columbia County, southeast of Albany and to Westchester Center for Aging in Place.

Community Caregivers will partner with local residents in the City of Albany and the adjacent Town of Bethlehem to develop villages there.  Preliminary meetings were held in the spring with follow up planning meetings set to take place in August and September.  The goal is to try and create a framework for the villages by the end of the year.

The New York Times reported in an article on July 17, “The Power of Positive People,” that “friends can exert a measurable and on-going influence on your health behaviors in a way that a diet never can,” according to Daniel Buettner, a National Geographic author.  Developing positive social networks like villages can be a big part of giving older persons a sense of security by being in a caring and supportive community.    Positive friendships are a prominent characteristic of the “blue zones,” those communities of the world where residents live far longer than the average lifespan.

To read more about the blue zones, go to

In the initial meeting in the Town of Bethlehem, one of the seniors noted she had been meeting with a group of six persons called the “Conscious Aging” group.  She said they get together to discuss issues of concern about getting older that are on their minds, including death and dying.  This type of small group of friends can be an important idea of the village to promote for its members.

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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