Mary-Carrol Potter, a 78 year old Washington resident, is opting to remain in her home rather than accept her children’s offers to put her up. The issue was that her children were spread all across the globe, and she had no interest in uprooting from the village in which she had lived for half a century. In the past, the difficulties inherent in living on your own at such an age would likely leave Potter with no option but to move in with her kin. However, thanks to what the Washington Post has called “a phenomenon that has swept through the Washington [among many cities] at an astonishing rate”, Potter has been able to remain in her hometown.
This phenomenon of which I speak is the emergence of “senior villages” which organize volunteers available to assist seniors in difficult tasks, allowing them to live otherwise independent lives. The volunteers offer to mow the lawn, provide transportation, deliver groceries and generally offer “anything the seniors want and need”. Potter cites volunteers coming in to change the ceiling lights or do the caulking, claiming that they make up for most of the utility provided by a child living nearby.
Potter’s desire to remain in her home is both common and relatable; according to a study conducted by the AARP, 88 per cent of seniors would choose to live at home as long as possible.
These senior villages exist in multiple metropolises across the USA, Canada, Australia and Netherlands, with over 120 villages in existence and another 100 in development. These villages are run by volunteers and paid staff, allowing for very affordable membership.
In reading about these villages, what I have found most interesting is the sense of community which these villages provide. These communities allow members to not only foster relationships with helpful volunteers but also other participants. One village is even noted to have a weekly happy hour.
I believe that organizations such as these are the second half of the puzzle. In addition to the architectural products that we sell, these villages offer the human services which, together make for a safe and efficient independent living situation. My hope is for as many elderly to stay at home as long as possible, and as residents such as Mary-Carrol Potter are discovering, it is getting easier by the day.