Part of the Aging and Innovation Special Report
Editor’s note: This article is part of a year-long project about aging well, planning for the changes aging brings and shaping how society thinks about aging. If 90 percent of adults over 65 want to remain in their homes as long as possible, as a 2011 AARP study suggests, why do so many wind up in retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes?
Meeting the needs of millions of individuals with different incomes, a range of health conditions and diverse living situations is a complex puzzle with no one-size-fits-all solution. But as NAIPC pointed out in the white paper prepared for the meeting, finding innovative ways to keep older adults in their homes longer would provide huge social and financial benefits to individuals and society as a whole.(MORE: SPECIAL REPORT: Transforming Life as We Age)
Speakers at the meeting presented a variety of experimental models to address what is expected to be a growing need — projections show there will be 89 million Americans over 65 by the year 2030, including 20 million who will be older than 85.The three models featured below were presented as options either for boomers who want to stay in their homes as long as possible or for those over 80 (possibly the parents of boomers) who also want to stay in their homes, but have greater health and home care needs.
Dr. Allan Teel, a family physician and author, described Full Circle America, a for-profit telemedicine support program he started for the oldest residents in his small town (population: 2,041) of Damariscotta, Maine. (Next Avenue discussed Full Circle America in an article about alternative retirement communities.)(MORE: Henry Cisneros Wants to Design Cities for All Ages)
The Village ModelWhile programs like Full Circle America can help the fragile elderly live in their homes longer, boomers want to stay in their own residences longer, too. They may not have critical health needs, but some find they need adjustments to their homes and lifestyle as they age.
(MORE: What It Takes to Age in Place)
There’s an annual fee of $530 for individuals ($800 per household) to tap into the services provided by the village, with financial assistance programs for those who qualify. The village currently serves more than 265 individual and household members.CHV was one of the first villages in Washington, D.C., which now has 14 similar programs and 40 in the D.C. metropolitan area. For a closer look at why members like the village concept, watch AARP’s profile of CHV.
Mark Dunham, external affairs counsel for Generations of Hope, presented a third innovative, lifestyle model for aging in place. Generations of Hope is an affordable-housing concept in which residents, roughly 60 and older, are offered subsidized housing to live in a community that needs their help.(MORE: Volunteers After 50: AARP Experience Corps Tutors)
The original Generations of Hope, Hope Meadows in Rantoul, Ill., pairs families raising foster children with older residents who volunteer at least six hours per week doing such things as babysitting, tutoring, gardening or serving as a crossing guard.
Dunham says his model has been replicated to serve veterans returning with traumatic brain injury in New Orleans and families with autistic children in other parts of the country. In each case, he says three generations live in the same community — one that’s created to address a specific social need using older residents as volunteers.The strength of this model is that the families with children (or in the case of the veterans, young adults) who have special needs get extra support, while the older residents who choose to live in the community benefit from a greater sense of purpose and connection. “It’s figuring out what’s in our hearts and translating it to workable models,” Dunham said. Generations of Hope is expanding, with two projects being developed in Washington, D.C. and more across the country.
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