USA Today is reporting that the explosive growth of America’s older population is fueling a grass-roots “village” movement in neighborhoods across the country to help people age in their own homes.
Over the past decade, more than 50 villages in a system where a neighbor-helps-neighbor have popped up in places like California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Massachusetts. These villages, are run largely by volunteers and funded by grants and membership fees to provide services from transportation and grocery delivery to home repairs and dog walking.
With the number of Americans 65 and older expected to more than double to 89 million by 2050, according to the Census Bureau, the need for social services, retirement homes, and assisted living facilities has never been greater.
The “village” concept is taking off in small and big cities and suburbs across the country as the percentage of elderly rises while the share of the working-age population that supports them declines. The percentage of people 65 and older is projected to climb from 13% today to 19% by 2050, while the share of adults age 20 to 64 is expected to drop from 60% to 55%, the Census Bureau says.
“We will hit a really pivotal point,” says Julie Maggioncalda, a University of Pennsylvania geriatric social work student who is interning at the Capitol Hill Village in Washington, D.C. Nursing homes won’t be able to handle all the elderly, she says. “We simply don’t have enough space, and if we don’t have a village, that burden will fall on families.”
AARP research shows that 90% of people want to grow old in their home and community. “Villages are one way people can lead the life they want to live,” says Mimi Castaldi, AARP vice president for volunteer engagement. “They’ve caught the imagination of people.”