We’re all part of communities. It is where we live, our family, our friends, place of worship, recreational club and other special places where we are part of a group with like interests. The nucleus of our community is our home, our personal space where we welcome various people from our other communities. It is that physical space that holds precious memories of experiences shared and also holds physical objects that are sentimental. So many of us have a comfort level in our personal dwelling that will keep us there until our needs begin to change.
Now there are non traditional creative options to aging in place.
Natural Occurring Retirement Communities, NORCs are a new important trend for older adults. They are not planned but evolve by demographics in a specific area and responds to community needs (eg. Heath services, transportation) and strengths (eg. nearby shopping center). It can be a vertical NORC such as a high rise apartment building or it can encompass a section of single family homes where many seniors reside. There are social, health and service benefits available within a NORC. Public and private partnerships work together to support on site services and activities while government agencies and philanthropic organizations help fund the project. While offering these resources, its goal is also to empower older adults to be proactive in their community, develop strong social bonds and maximize their well being.
Building a Village: Similar to NORCs, villages are developed by older adults who choose to age in place. They want a community that will fuel their social needs as well as provide needed personal, health and transportation services. It is a membership based grass roots organization where neighbors help neighbors and coordinated by both volunteers and paid staff. Although it can take a couple of years to roll into action, the results are so positive that there are now about 50 across the country and over 600 in development. Urban areas like Beacon Hill Village in Boston, Massachusetts and Burning Tree community in Bethesda, Maryland are prime examples of seniors taking responsibility to help each other remain in their homes.
Aging in Place: A Virtual Retirement Community: This is a less structured organization than NORCs and Villages described above. It is a group of older adults aging in place within a specific geographic area. The community formed in Cambridgeport near Cambridge, Massachusetts is under the leadership of Polly Allen, who worked with many local volunteers and SeniorsConnect.This city wide networking model is easier to start since the cost is minimal and does not require a large number of participants to function. They meet primarily online to arrange social activities and respond to opportunities to help each other and share expertise. Support of volunteers is important for basic essentials such as meals, transportation and tax counseling.
If you are a senior who wants to continue to live independently, there are unique choices to optimize your daily living. Additional information and support is often available from your local council on aging.
He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Never be the only one, except, possibly, in your own home.