Housing & Transportation

New Ways of Aging in Place

The conventional approach to "aging in place" is to deliver home care services to each person separately, based on an individual assessment and development of an individual care plan. (See Home Care for more information on care plans.)

New models are being created that emphasize building (or rebuilding) social connections among elders while meeting individual service needs. Three such models, described below, share common features:

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)

A "Naturally Occurring Retirement Community" (NORC) refers to a geographic area or building with a multigenerational population but a significant number of residents that are 60 and over. Some eldercare agencies have created community-based interventions that build on this "natural" concentration of elders called NORC-Supportive Service Programs (SSPs). These organizations connect elders to a variety of health care and home care services that allow them to remain healthy and independent. By serving a large number of elders in a small area, this model benefits from economies of scale in the organization and delivery of services, and creates related cost savings. There are now more than 80 NORCs nationwide. For more information on NORCs, visit the Web site.

Village Models

Another model for aging in place has been pioneered by Beacon Hill Village (BHV), a grassroots membership organization that connects people age 50 and older who live in downtown Boston with supportive services. By negotiating and partnering with service providers, BHV offers its dues-paying members access to social and cultural activities, health and fitness programs, household and home maintenance services, and medical care. The goal of the "village" is to offer the benefits of assisted living without requiring members to move from their homes.

There are now five "villages" in different parts of the country, and ten more to open in 2008. Caregivers and elders interested in learning how to start an organization similar to Beacon Hill Village in their own neighborhood can order a copy of The Village Concept: A Founder's Manual from the Beacon Hill Village Web site or call 617-723-9713.

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