Community-Based Models Are Popular Alternatives for Aging in Place

Aging in place is preferred by the majority of older Americans but it is not always the most cost-effective way to live later in life. Many people want to even stay in the same home and same neighborhood and there are other ways currently being explored of how they can do exactly what they want without dipping deep into their nest egg.

Certain community models have been around for centuries and now, the number of seniors seeking community-based services is growing while informal supports provided by family members and friends are shrinking, according to a recent brief by the American Institutes for Research, titled “Community-Based Models for Aging in Place”.

Cohousing is a type of planned community that can support those who wish to age in place, the brief explains.

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“Cohousing began in Europe in the 1970’s,” the brief says. “Modern cohousing is described as “a form of collaborative housing designed to emphasize social contact among community members while preserving and respecting individual privacy.”

In addition to having private homes, there are also shared spaces for meals, recreation and socializing, which enforces the idea of a community. This model can also reduce loneliness that is often common among the aging.

The homes in cohousing models are generally all owned by the individuals living in them, though there are some cohousing developments with a few rental units in the community.

America has 172 cohousing communities right now and has 127 more under development this year, according to the brief.

Another model that requires a bit more commitment to is the village model. This type of community exists in neighborhoods and larger geographies in which people are all hoping to age in place.

“Villages are membership-driven, grassroots organizations run by volunteers and paid staff that provide services in members’ homes and connect them to affordable services in the community,” the brief states.

No two villages are alike but the majority have membership dues to be paid yearly for the staff that is in the community. It may cost $1,200 per year to have be a member of a village but when compared to some of the fees of an assisted living facility, which can be up to $5,000 per month, this is a more affordable option.

The last community-based model brought up in the brief is the livable communities model, which builds a community on the naturally occurring communities inhabited by older people.

These types of communities are established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Communities seeking to become “livable” have extensive guidance on the many infrastructure characteristics and improved services recommended to fully enable livability,” the brief says. “WHO’s eight domains of livability are outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.”

What all of these types of communities have in common is that they prioritize social engagement, which is vital for those people aging in place.

Written by Alana Stramowski

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