The village concept is a relatively new model for retirement, helping seniors remain in their homes as they age. Seniors frequently struggle with increased needs associated with aging but are determined to maintain their independence while staying in their homes.
The Village Movement is a grassroots concept sweeping across the nation. The virtual village idea originated in 2001 in Beacon Hill, a neighborhood of Boston.
Where It Came From
Nearly 90 percent of Baby Boomers say they want to stay in their homes and close to family and friends as long as possible, according to a survey by AARP. The challenge these individuals face, however, is that if they do nothing to prepare for future needs, they may not be able to continue living in their homes as long as they would like.
Residents of Beacon Hill responded to the challenge of staying in their community by joining their neighbors to take control over where and how they will live in the years to come. They formed a non-profit, Beacon Hill Village, which serves those aged 50+ in central Boston, to take advantage of social, cultural and wellness activities without leaving their homes. The various services provided are designed to respond to the members’ specific needs and wants and include concierge services, comprehensive home care, home repair, house cleaning, grocery shopping, transportation and other services.
What It Involves
- Members pay an annual fee to have access to a screened network of service providers for home repairs, yard work, or any service required to live at home.
- Vetted vendors offer their services at a discount to village members. In addition, free services such as transportation to a medical appointment, computer help, or something as simple as changing a light bulb are available through a network of screenedvolunteers.
- Some of the volunteers may be village members, following the “neighbors helping neighbors” concept.
- There is often a cross-generational component of the program involving students and young adults helping village members.
- By being a village member, seniors receive peace of mind, service discounts, concierge-style services, and a stronger connection with their community.
Across the nation, village networks have been providing the resources necessary for seniors to stay in their homes for longer periods of time. Nationally, the average village member age is 74, and the annual membership dues average $400.
The design and implementation of individual villages is customized to the needs and wants of the specific neighborhood. Most of these groups have done informal and formal research to determine what the members want, and are designing their program to address those needs. Consequently, no two programs will be exactly the same.
Where It Is Going
The original Beacon Hill has now grown to nearly 400 members. In Orange County there are currently five villages open or currently under development: Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Anaheim, and two in San Clemente. The innovative concept has also grown exponentially. Hundreds of other communities have been founded based on the same principles in the United States and beyond. In fact, by the tenth anniversary of the original Beacon Hill, more than 60 Villages had opened. These Villages are all connected through the Village-to-Village Network, which is a means for villages to learn from each other, exchange ideas, pool resources and share tools.
Not only does the village concept benefit seniors but often their adult children as well, because they are seeking resources within the market to provide quality services for their parents.