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Aging Gracefully in Your Own Home – with a Little Help: Non-Profits Offer New Model for Growing Old on Your Own Terms

Published September 30, 2014

Our guest blogger this week is Jilana Van Meter, Communications & Administration Manager,  At Home on the Sound.

at home on the sound

The term “aging in place” is being heard more frequently these days. Simply put, “aging in place” means remaining in your own home and maintaining your independence as you grow older. Some Americans hope to accomplish this entirely on their own; others assume they will have the aid of nearby family members. But there is another option. By joining a local aging-in-place organization older adults are now finding they can have the best of both worlds – the privacy and autonomy they value plus peace of mind from belonging to a community of people who are willing to step in to lend a hand when needed.

To date there are 145 such organizations (frequently referred to as “Villages”) already operating around the country. These nonprofit groups have proved so popular that 125 more are in development. There are ten “Villages” in New York State, with seven more on the way.

One such group in Westchester County is At Home on the Sound. Serving Larchmont and Mamaroneck, At Home on the Sound is currently comprised of 150 members (ranging in age from 62 to 100), plus approximately 80 community volunteers of all ages. Many of At Home’s members are also volunteers. Besides providing enriching programs and activities, At Home on the Sound matches the volunteers with members who need local transportation or other assistance. In any given week At Home on the Sound provides 25 to 30 rides to doctor appointments, errands – even the nail salon!

At Home on the Sound volunteers are also available to handle simple household maintenance tasks like changing a hard to reach light bulb or fixing a leaky faucet. Several times throughout the year local high school students offer technology workshops providing one-on-one assistance to At Home members with cell phones and iPads. Staying up-to-date with technology not only has wonderful social benefits but can be a matter of safety as well.  An occupational therapist offers free home safety assessments, while a volunteer Medicare expert conducts annual seminars to keep members up-to-date on laws and deadlines. Trained volunteer patient advocates are even available to accompany members to medical appointments.

At Home on the Sound schedules at least a dozen social and cultural programs each month for members. A gentle yoga class is offered every week. Lectures are held on a vast array of topics from Acupuncture to the Constitutional Convention. Bus trips are organized for outings to museums, Broadway shows, and concerts. Activities such as Scrabble, Bridge, foreign language conversation, and current events discussions bring together like-minded members for fun and intellectual stimulation. All the programs are designed to ward off the sense of isolation that can sometimes come with age.

Not only do aging-in-place organizations improve the lives of members, these nonprofits can also be a godsend for family members who live far away and may not have regular contact with their older loved ones. With a quick local phone call, the older adult who belongs to an aging-in-place group can easily access a ride or other assistance when needed.

Aging-in-Place organizations around the country offer similar services to enhance and improve the quality of life for older adults – and their families. To see if an aging-in-place organization is currently serving your area visit the Village to Village network for a searchable map of the US.

Learn more about At Home on the Sound by clicking here.

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