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More ideas for the next iterations of senior villages

I guess it's an idea whose time has come. Once you start to look for these senior villages, NORCs (naturally occuring retirement communities), village networks, or 'virtual assisted living' -- they are typically aggregated concierge-type services for boomers and seniors -- they're everywhere.A brief digression: In the market overview I am publishing on March 18, I frame the vendors in the aging in place technology market into four categories, which are really dimensions of successful aging at home:

  • Communication and engagement
  • Home safety and security
  • Health and wellness
  • Contribution and learning

All four dimensions are required to age well. If a person's home experience encompasses only two of the four, they are bound to be in danger of isolation, risk, or claustrophobic narrowing of their lives.

So in that context, San Francisco Village Northside which just opened in January is especially interesting to me partly because of an impressive board of directors and listed services.

So let's assume that most boomers and seniors are reluctant to move from their homes. These 'senior villages' with fee-based concierge services, therefore, are one of the anchor models for the next generation of aging in place and aging well -- steps beyond the more passive senior center, instead actively moving into the home. So as more are conceived, organized, funded, and launched, let's see them add:

1) Computer capability assessment as part of the 'free home safety and preparedness' review -- as long as someone is in the home, why not ask whether there is a broadband access, a virus-free computer, and a comfort level with its use? That way in addition to chatting in person with members, how about showing them how to connect on the Internet? Looking at the list of bloggers on Timegoesby (older women) or Disaboom (people with disabilities) shows how socially rich the online world is -- and completely unknown to computer-less households.

2) Phones -- do members have a cell phone that they are comfortable with and has up-to-date speed dials set for family members and emergencies? Are they candidates for AT&T or Verizon 65+ calling plans? If they have hearing difficulties, do they need an amplified phone? Would they like to learn more about Skype, cameras, and videophones to connect to their families? Perhaps in San Francisco, a cadre of techie volunteers could be organized from nearby colleges to fill both this need and computer assessments.

3) Home monitoring -- Are staff members up to speed on new personal emergency response and monitoring offerings? As senior members age, does the senior village staff know who can provide home monitoring technology, whether it is for fall prevention or chronic disease monitoring?

4) Distance learning -- it's really great that the offerings include participation in village-sponsored classes. Add to that guiding members about distance/online learning opportunities, many from schools right in their area. How about showing them retiredbrains.com?

As always, feedback and thoughts most welcome!

Comments

Hi Laurie,

Great post! I completely agree with your proposed additions to these senior villages. Computer access and engagement is a great way for people with mobility issues to socialize and connect with others.

Thanks for your shout-out to Disaboom, we appreciate it!

Best,

Cherl Petso, Associate editor of Disaboom.com

Hi Laurie,
Your site has great information. Kudos to you. I thought you might like to hear about a sendior village in the development process in our neighborhood. I'm attending an informational meeting in a couple of weeks and have forwarded your newsletter and site to the organizers. Here's our local site URL www.ashbyvillage.org

All the best,
Claire

There have been a ton of advances in the home security space. First, sensors are using new technology which allows faster problem recognition and a much wider variety of problems which can be detected (medical issues too). Video has gone from very low definition to being capable of providing great image while storage has been increased to support archiving of better quality video. I think now more than ever seniors are taking advantage of security systems. At an older age it's best to have the least possible amount of problems on one's head. It does help keep you sane.

Hi Laurie,
My father and I saw a need to help people age in their own homes nearly 15 years ago. We were frustrated trying to get help for my grandmothers in California and Michigan (we are in Washington, DC). We started a non-medical home health agency and eventually moved my granny from rural Michigan down to live with us. After years of reaching out to our community to help folks stay in their homes, many senior villages are springing up in the Washington area now. The metro Washington, DC area is poised to be a leader in showing how villages can change the paradigm on a large scale. In the nation's capitol there are a few including Capitol Hill and Palisades. In Maryland they include Bannockburn, Chevy Chase, Burning Tree, Cabin John and Somerset senior villages. Northern Virginia has a handful and others are in the making.

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