IT TAKES A VILLAGE … WITH AGING SERVICES. Beacon Hill Village and other so-called Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (or NORCs) continue to generate curiosity, support and positive media coverage. The practice of older adults banding together as “villages” to assist one another is certainly commendable. Aging Services of California most recently featured the cover story “Villages: A New Take on an Old Idea” in its January 2012 edition of the monthly agenda journal.
So … how do villages or NORCs relate to those independent and assisted living communities and skilled care centers provided by aging services organizations? It is a legitimate question, though one that is variously side-stepped by village elders as well as aging services providers. The agenda article by Susan Poor, an advisor to the newly formed Village-to-Village Network, effuses that “…we are only at the tip of the iceberg in witnessing the creativity and innovation that can emerge from the Village movement.” True, perhaps, but, again, this prolific movement begs the questions, How do and will they affect professional aging services providers?
Most Villages outright state or infer an objective is to keep members out of institutions. Some more proudly than others: Beacon Hill Villages’ website features a CBS News story (1-14-07) that interviews member Dorothy Weinstein, 98, identified as the Villages’ “poster child.”
The reporter asks Weinstein: “Have you ever thought about going to a retirement community?” To which she responds: “No, no, no. I just couldn’t place me in one of those places. What would I do all day? Here at least I’m somebody. There I would be a nobody.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement, nor an invitation to work together to, say, help those villagers who become too ill or frail to live at home.
Eskaton’s new Live Well at Home program attempts to provide supportive services that balance individuals’ desire to age-in-place with the occasional or eventual need for professional aging services. “Your home. Our experience.” the literature reassures. The evolution of care for older adults may include brick-and-mortar communities and care centers, programs such as Live Well at Home, natural Villages or some new hybrid. Since no one knows for sure, it only makes sense that more options, better collaboration and mutual respect will benefit everyone.