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Virtual Villages Helping Senior Age in Place and Make Friends

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Like many 55 years and older citizens they want to stay in their home as they age. As I have been working in the Senior industry for many years, reading about new ideas where individuals or couples can live in their home but have services provided to them when needed is a concept that has taken off by in the East Coast area. They are called: Virtual Retirement Villages. Individuals or couples become a member and pay a yearly fee to gain access to resources and social connections that help them age in place. There is a Virtual Retirement Village that was started in Austin, Texas, about four years ago called Capital City Village.

The virtual village can connect folks with people of their own ago so they can do more things, especially if one is single or has lost their spouse. One can tap into the network of more than 100 service companies referred by members. Dozens of volunteers will walk your dog or do yard work. They connect and go to dinners, concerts or play cards at a member’s house, or have potlucks, happy hours and day trips. This is a network of “friends.”

An off shoot of the sharing economy, virtual villages arestarting to pop up all over the country. Currently, there are 140 villages in 40 states, according to Village to Village Network, which helps establish and manage the villages.  Another 120 virtual villages are on the drawing boards, including one to start in San Antonio, Texas. These villages are low-cost ways to age inplace and delay going to costly assisted living facilities. Yearly membership dues average about $450, and most villages offer subsidies for people who cannot afford membership costs. Armies of volunteers, who help run many villages, also help lower member costs by doing yard work, picking up prescriptions, or taking members shopping or to the airport.

At the core of these villages are concierge-like service referrals for members. Members can find household repair services, and sometimes even personal trainers, chefs or practitioners of Reiki, the Japanese healing technique. People who passionately believe in controlling their lives are best suited to the villages.

In the future, baby boomers will be push virtual villages into mass acceptance. They do not want to be dependent upon their family members or the government. For all their good works virtual villages usually are not equipped to handle serious illness. A few are experimenting with healthcare-related innovations.

Economically, virtual villages are a great deal, “you can retain equity in your home, your biggest investment.”

By: Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner, The Next Horizon Seniors & Military Locator/Resource