North Star Village: Aging in Place

According to the Greater Portland Pulse, there were over 190,000 people aged 65 and older living in the Portland metro area as of the 2010 census. By 2030, that number is expected to grow to almost 395,000.

That’s a lot of people. So many in fact that even if they all wanted to move into retirement facilities, there is no way they could do so. There simply aren’t enough facilities in existence or being built to accommodate that many people. Not to mention that a huge percentage of this population—current estimates suggest up to 75%—don’t have enough retirement savings to be able to afford the $3000+ per month it would cost. Fortunately, it’s not where most of us want to end up.

According to a recent survey by AARP, 89% of older adults want to age in their own homes and neighborhoods. This is particularly true of the Boomers who visited their grandparents in “old age homes.”  It’s not the vision of aging they have for themselves.

There is an alternative to retirement facilities.  Over the past three years,  Villages NW has worked tirelessly to organize neighborhood residents into planning groups and now has SIX grassroots Villages in development across the Portland metro-area—three in Multnomah County, two in Washington County and one in Clackamas County—and they’re not done yet!

The first Portland-metro Village launch: Eastside PDX Village is now accepting members, seeking volunteers, and vetting vendors. A “village” is a group of like-minded people in a geographic area who come together to figure out and develop the resources they will need to age comfortably in their own homes. Like Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), villages embrace the strategy of bringing services to people rather than moving people to services. The value of Village, for their members and for society are many. Villages are a solution that can work for the middle class and lower middle class, as well as for people with significant means. By making it possible for seniors to get the help they need to age-in-place for as little as $10-15 per week, villages help conserve their limited financial resources and help prevent–or at least slow—them from sliding downward into poverty.

Unlike most approaches to aging, Villages are not age-segregated.  Village members continue to live in their own neighborhoods surrounded by and interacting with people of all ages. Additionally, the Village draws its volunteers not just from its members, but from the broader community, which further nurtures intergenerational interaction and relationship.

It will take multiple grassroots Villages to serve the growing senior population of the Portland metro-area alone, and the average development time for a Village is 3-5 years. Every single day nationwide another 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the age of 65. There’s literally no time to waste.

Currently, North Star Village which will serve North Portland, Sauvie Island,  and bordering neighborhoods in the NW and inner NE is in development.  The North Star Village planning group meets at the Charles Jordan Center and is in early development. To learn more or get involved, please contact Patt at NorthStarVillage@comcast.net. Follow them on Facebook at North Star Village.

If you or a loved one are a resident of any of these neighborhoods, and would like to learn more come to a Villages at Home Talk Saturday  Jan. 23. Sign up on their website. North Star Village offers many volunteer opportunities for making a difference.  The amount of time you give is up to you. To find your right place in North Star Village, and for the best fit with your skills and interests or for information about volunteer openings, contact Villages at: http://www.northstarvillagepdx.org/volunteer

To learn more, please call 503-515-1948, visit http://villagesnw.org, or email info@villagenw.org.

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