By BRUCE SMITH
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Aging baby boomers want to stay in their own homes as long as
possible and a way to do that, the so-called village concept, is
catching on in South Carolina.
Experts say it's less expensive for
baby boomers as they age to live at home than in nursing homes, and
people who remain in their homes are often happier and live longer. Some
8,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day in the U.S.
baby boomers do not intend to go into nursing homes," said Janet
Schumacher, the coordinator of the Office on Aging in Charleston. "They
are looking to each other to provide support."
are associations set up to provide help to members with everything from
transportation and home repairs to social and cultural connections. The
first was started on Beacon Hill in Boston 13 years ago.
according to the nonprofit Village to Village Network, there are 120
operating nationwide as well as in Canada, Australia and the
Netherlands. One is in South Carolina, on Hilton Head Island, while
residents in Sun City, just off the island, and Charleston are
considering starting two more.
There's a meeting Wednesday in Charleston sponsored by the South
Carolina Aging in Place Coalition, a group that works with agencies to
help people remain in their homes as they age, and the Charleston Office
on Aging, to discuss the village concept.
Schumacher says baby boomers don't look at aging as did previous generations.
boomers don't want to be old. They want to be active and then die," she
said. "They don't intend to go gently into the night. They just want to
go on their motorcycles into the night."
There is no
one-size-fits-all for villages. A group of six women living in a house
might be considered a village as might an entire condominium building in
New York, she said.
Generally villages have bylaws and some sort of dues or membership fees.
group of people who are getting together and forming a village decide
what they need," said Barbara Franklin, owner of Franklin &
Associates, a long-term care planning and financing firm and chairwoman
of the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition.
villages have three components. One is a volunteer aspect in which
members agree to help each other doing such things as providing
transportation, minor home maintenance and simply checking up on other
members to make sure they are OK.
A second aspect is vetting companies that provide services for members such as home repairs.
you immerse yourself in the field of aging you have no way to know what
services are out there. How do you know what questions to ask and then
how do you access those services?" Franklin asked.
Villages also provide social aspect where members can get together and share fellowship.
nonprofit Lourie Center, near the University of South Carolina campus
in Columbia, offers exercise classes, language learning and computer
lessons among other courses.
"But our most important programming is getting people into the center
and getting them talking to each other and getting them remembering
they are still a very important part of society," said Mary Kessler, the
center's executive director. Many of the center's members live in
"If somebody doesn't show up for class people will call them and ask where they are," she said.
Head Island Safe Harbour, the village on Hilton Head, has 44 members
ranging in age from 44 to 99. Members help each other with
transportation and household repairs and even provide a respite for
those caring for family members with chronic diseases.
does it save everybody money but you have people who are staying in
their homes. Studies have shown that people who live in their homes have
longer and richer lives," said Beth Zimmerman, one of two paid staffers
at the village. She regularly calls all village members to check them.
Kessler said the word about aging in place is getting out as baby boomers age.
whole village to village movement is designed to do that," she said.
"It's like when neighbors at the turn of the last century would come
over and know where you are and know when you are ill and bring you
food. We have lost a lot of that."
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