The Washington Post is reporting that a recent AARP study of D.C. seniors who joined “aging-in-place” networks say the move has made them feel more engaged in their communities and more comfortable with their decision to stay in their homes.
Researchers from AARP interviewed dozens of residents and volunteers from five “villages” — in Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, Kalorama, Chevy Chase and Palisades — to find out what works and what doesn’t in these grass-roots communities, which have proliferated in the region in the past few years.
In some graying neighborhoods, residents have banded together and paid a yearly fee for social activities and access to a network of volunteers, or vetted contractors who can help them with tasks such as rides and computer help. In some larger villages, the network is managed by an executive director or other paid staff. Experts say the networks, modeled on a village that sprang up in the Beacon Hill area of Boston in 2001, are a viable option for seniors who, polls say, overwhelmingly prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible.
“It’s an emerging trend we think will continue to gain traction over time,” said Elinor Ginzler, senior vice president for livable communities at AARP.
The AARP chose to study the District because, except for San Francisco, the region has more of these villages than any other area in the country: about 15 operating or in development in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
According to the study, District Villages also provide their members with a social connection to their neighborhood. They link members with common interests in book clubs or chess clubs. They offer informational seminars on topics such as reverse mortgages; exercise classes, like yoga or walking; and trips to theatres, museums, and gardens. They provide companionship through friendly visits or calls to members.