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!