Aging in Place
“It takes a Village. Go find one.”(1)
It is a well documented fact that some 92 percent of Americans age 65 and older want to live out their lives in their current homes – even if they should need help. And why not? After all, home is special in many dimensions: comfort, privacy, control, familiarity; and is the place through which we express our identity – a notion grounded in American cultural values of independence and self-reliance.
But now, the idea of going it alone is being questioned, expressed eloquently here by New York Times columnist David Brooks:
“This individualist description of human nature seems to be wrong. Over the past thirty years, there has been a tide of research in many fields, all underlining one old truth — that we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another, and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.”(2)
People understand this and as a result we are witnessing the emergence of a new idea: “aging in community.” It represents a shift in emphasis away from dwellings and toward relationships, the central idea upon which Villages were created and operate. “The concept is focused on building vital communities that engage people of all ages and abilities in a shared, ongoing effort to advance the common good.”(3)
Villages are an innovative, grass-roots response to the yearning to age in community. And they benefit the whole community.
“The benefit is that it’s a nonprofit, non-governmental mechanism for extending the enlivening process in any community. It allows older adults to stay in touch with their surroundings and give back. It has an opportunity to make a major impact on aging in America.”(4)
(1) Forbes, January, 2014
(2) David Brooks, “The Social Animal,” New York Times, September 11, 2008.
(3) Moving Beyond Place: Aging in Community by William H. Thomas and Janice Blanchard
(4) David Baker, Vice President for External Affairs, Illinois Institute of Technology; VP, Lincoln Park Village board of directors.