There is a small but growing movement sprouting in this country that is creating “elder villages” where seniors who wish to remain in their own homes as they age are banding together to help themselves and each other access the services they want and need to make their lives more safe, secure, comfortable, and enjoyable. I am excited by this trend and will be working to create a village here in Salem and hope to see them sprouting up throughout Central and Southwest Virginia. There is already one in the works in Lynchburg (they can be reached at 434 851 6530). According to the Village to Village Network website (www.vtvnetwork.clubexpress.com) there are over 50 villages operating across the country and one in Australia. These villages vary widely from one another in complexity, scope, and organizational structure. Some have paid staff and charge hefty membership fees; others are run entirely by volunteers and charge smaller fees or none at all. What they all have in common is that they are groups that are organized to help their members have better tools to age gracefully in their own homes and have better access to the resources that already exist. I believe that this approach to life, to take stock of our needs, pull up our bootstraps, and make our homes and communities better places to live is the heart and soul of the American Spirit. We need more of this kind of can do thinking and entrepreneurship in our country and I for one applaud it wherever it can be found.
I would like to begin a conversation within our communities in Central and Southwest Virginia. Let’s begin to band together to take care of our seniors and make each other’s life richer and more fulfilling. As I have been involved in providing home modification services to help seniors remain in their homes, and as I helped care for my own mother before her passing in July, I have realized more and more how fragmented our senior services providers are. I have seen the need for a centralized directory of services to help those who are caring for a loved one find the help they need. This is one of the functions of villages to provide a list of vetted providers to their members. These providers may also offer a discount to village members. The senior networking groups which operate throughout this region are a great source for service providers who provide services to seniors. Some of the services which may be offered include:
- Home health care
- Social and educational programs
- Home Modification
- Help with financial issues, paying bills, etc
The services which are need will vary from community to community, but the important thing is to find what the needs are and find a way to meet them. There are many existing groups and organizations (community senior centers, church, and civic groups) that would be eager to plug in and provide coordination or volunteer services. Anyone who is interested in getting involved in implementing this vision, please call me at (540) 384-2064 or email me at email@example.com. I look forward to seeing these villages pop up all over our region.
As this is my last column of the year, and Christmas is right around the corner, I’d like to take a moment to remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to thank him for all the blessings I have received throughout the year. I hope that each of you will count your blessings and I wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!