If you are an older adult, you have found that from time to time you need help with things around the house that for some reason you can’t do yourself (for me, it’s moving furniture). If you live in your own home, apartment or condo, and wish to remain independent, have you thought about what supports you may need as you grow older? And if you are the adult child of an aging parent, would it give you peace of mind to know that there are supports available to help with non-medical caregiving tasks?

According to local research, most people want to remain living on their own: 96% of the participants in a group aged 60 – 69 want to “age in place” living on their own as they grow older, according to study conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension. These home owners reported that doing maintenance on their homes was a top concern, followed by finding care to allow to them remain at home and getting help with chores. They also reported that they were seeking support to stay physically active, get their transportation needs met, and have options for staying socially connected.

Community Thread has been exploring how to best support our aging community as we anticipate the increasing number of older adults in Washington County (by 2035, the number of adults age 65 + will double). One model of support, called “the Village”, is a movement that champions an alternative approach for adults as they grow older. Villages are unique in that they are created by and for older adults, empowering their members to make wise, safe, and vibrant choices about how they wish to live.

Villages are membership-driven, grass-roots organizations that, through both volunteers and paid staff, coordinate access to affordable services including transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, and other day-to-day needs enabling individuals to remain connected to their community throughout the aging process. They also offer opportunities to socialize and volunteer.

If the Village description piques your interest, plan to attend a community forum on Monday, September 25 to learn more and share your thoughts on how this model could serve our area.

Guest speaker Dr. Atul Gawande  – distinguished surgeon, public health researcher and author (“Being Mortal”) – will be the guest speaker at the forum via a live webcast. Dr. Gawande’s presentation, “The Value of Community and Choice as We Grow Older,” will feature a discussion on aging, living life with purpose, and how we can transform the possibilities for the later chapters of life.

All ages are welcome to attend the webcast and discussion afterwards about how this model could benefit the greater Stillwater community. The event will take place at the Stillwater Public Library, Margaret Rivers Room from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Refreshments will be served and there is no cost to attend. Please register by September 20 by calling Community Thread at 651-439-7434. It will take the collective abilities of our community to respond to this aging in place challenge so plan to be part of the conversation.

By: Sally Anderson