Last updated May 2022
Although in contemporary America seniors are less likely to live with their children, compared to other parts of the world, AARP’s 2021 “Home and Community Preferences Survey” found that 52 percent of U.S. adults live in multigenerational households. AARP reported that “among those polled, 40 percent said they care for someone living in their home and 38 percent look after someone living on their own. Of those, nearly half worried about the ability of the person they care for to continue living independently.”
Even if you have children or other relatives who can help you out, a key part of aging in place involves setting up a support system for your social, personal, and medical needs. Think of this as creating a stand-in family.
That’s where elder villages come in. These are usually neighborhood-focused networks that offer social, medical, and household resources (usually from volunteers) that can help you stay in place.
In 2001 a handful of older residents of Beacon Hill became concerned about how they would stay in their neighborhood and their homes into their 80s and 90s. This led to the founding of the country’s first elder village, Beacon Hill Village, a volunteer neighborhood group designed to provide social connections and practical assistance to older adults. There are now hundreds of these villages in the U.S., with many more in development. Some cover entire counties; others focus on small, often walkable neighborhoods.
Each village offers a range of services and benefits, from finding teenagers to play chess with residents to helping with grocery shopping. Typically, a small tax-deductible fee (usually $100 to $500 a year, with many villages offering scholarships for lower-income residents) lets members take advantage of benefits like rides to medical appointments, dog-walking, yardwork, home fix-ups, and tech assistance. The most active villages also offer social activities like book clubs and walking groups.
If there’s no village in your area, you can help found one. You’ll need to:
- Organize a group of nearby neighbors interested in staying in their homes.
- You can learn about the village model and get referrals to other resources at the Village to Village Network website. You can sign up for a 12-month “Opportunity Member Trial Membership” for $175, with access to its library of documents, webinars, toolkits, and other resources. (Regular memberships cost $200 to $425/year per village, depending on size and model.)
- Decide on a geographic area you’d like to cover. Many active villages serve smaller walkable neighborhoods; some encompass whole counties.
- To avoid duplicating services already offered for free or almost free by local governments, talk to local councils or agencies on aging (see the list below). Also find out if your local aging agencies have policies or programs to encourage village-forming.
- Evaluate whether you’d like to operate the village as a primarily volunteer operation (lower operating costs and membership fees) or a staffed organization. Volunteer villages often grow into staffed villages as membership increases.
- Can you establish a brick-and-mortar headquarters, or do you want to run the village remotely? Both have advantages and disadvantages. Having a physical location often benefits members, but it can be expensive.
Listed below are active villages we could find operating in the Boston area. Did we miss any? Have an update to the info we collected? Email us at [email protected]. We’ll try to keep this list up to date.
Elder Villages in the Boston Area
Beacon Hill Village
- 74 Joy Street, Boston, 617-723-9713, beaconhillvillage.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents age 50+ of Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Downtown/Waterfront, Kenmore/Fenway, Midtown, North, South, and West Ends
- Service referrals, social and cultural events, educational events, day trips, transportation, errands, technology assistance, fitness and wellness classes, interest groups, walking groups, friendly phone calls and emails, counsel from peer resource volunteers, and other services (such as grocery shopping) for a small fee
- Annual membership fees: $675 individual, $975 household; six-month introductory membership fees: $375 individual, $535 household; reduced membership fee available
BrooklineCAN (Brookline Community Aging Network)
- 93 Winchester Street, Brookline, 617-730-2777, brooklinecan.org, [email protected]
- Serves Brookline residents; open to anyone
- Service referrals, discounts, educational forums, volunteer opportunities; connects members to support services and programs that charge fees (social/educational/cultural/fitness events, transportation, household help, medical escorts)
- Annual membership donations: $35 individual, $55 household; discounted annual fee $10 (for households with income under $35,000)
- 545 Concord Avenue, Suite 104, Cambridge, 617-864-1715, cambridgeneighbors.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents age 60+ of Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, and Watertown
- Service referrals, discounts, social/cultural/educational programs, grocery shopping, health and wellness classes, transportation, friendly visits, household chores, and technology assistance
- Annual membership fees: Full service $1,000 individual, $1,300 couple; social membership $500 individual, $650 couple; reduced-fee (based on eligibility) $100 individual, $200 couple; discounts available for those who provide volunteer help
Carleton-Willard At Home
- P.O. Box 936, Bedford, 781-276-1910, cwathome.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents age 65+ of Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, and Winchester
- Service referrals, help scheduling services, meal delivery from a menu (for a fee), free and discounted medical transportation, cultural and social events, exercise opportunities, weekly trip to grocery store, prescription pickup, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $680 individual, $960 two-person household
Coastal Neighbors Network (CNN)
- P.O. Box 80073, Dartmouth, 508-556-4004, coastalneighborsnetwork.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 50+ residents of Dartmouth and Westport
- Transportation, cultural and social events, medical and healthcare referrals, service referrals, book groups, friendly visits, and light home maintenance
- Annual membership fees: $660 individual, $900 household; social membership: $350; short-term (3 months) and reduced fee memberships available
Greater Newburyport Village?
- P.O. Box 58, Newburyport, 978-206-1821, greaternewburyportvillage.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents (most are over age 55) of Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Amesbury, and Salisbury
- Transportation, errands, light home maintenance and chores, service referrals, technology assistance, friendly visits, social and cultural events, educational and recreational activities, interest groups, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $300 individual, $450 household ($25 discount for renewing members); financial aid available
- P.O. Box 1006, Groton, 978-272-0123, grotonneighbors.org, [email protected]
- Serves adult residents of Groton
- Transportation, friendly phone calls and visits, light home and outdoor maintenance, technology assistance, social events and outings, exercise activities, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $95 individual, $60 for each additional household member; will work with members who can not afford membership fee
- 555 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-522-9042, www.ethocare.org/jphome, [email protected]
- Serves older middle income adult residents of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Mission Hill, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Brookline
- Discounted rates for Ethos services, service referrals, in-home needs assessments, home safety inspections, support groups, educational seminars, long-term care options counseling and information, and social, health, and wellness activities
- Annual membership fees: $495 individual, $845/household, $345 individual social
Newton at Home
- 206 Waltham Street, West Newton, 617-795-2560, newtonathome.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 60+ residents of Newton (one member of household must be age 60+)
- ?Transportation, minor home repairs and maintenance, set out/take in trash barrels, errands, friendly phone calls and visits, technology assistance, paperwork assistance, organizing, service referrals, social outings, small appliance repair workshops, interest groups, exercise activities, educational seminars, absent homeowner checks, gardening and yard help, reading to members with impaired vision, help navigating health care visits
- Annual membership fees: $725/individual, $850/household; six-month introductory membership: $450 individual, $525 household; social membership: $240 individual, $360 household; Breakaway membership (for those who spend 3 consecutive months out of town): $540 individual, $640 household; reduced-price memberships available
- P.O. Box 231, Northampton, 413-341-0160, northamptonneighbors.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents of Northampton, Florence, and Leeds; members age 55+ can request service
- Transportation, technology assistance, friendly visits and phone calls, simple repairs, small chores, neighborhood circles, support for caregivers of those with memory loss or dementia, speaker series, social events, and interest groups
- Free (funded by donations)
Reading Neighbors Network
- Serves residents of Reading and those with close ties to Reading
- Resource referrals, social events, interest groups, short-term support, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fee: $25 per individual
- 40 Monument Avenue, Swampscott, 781-718-0401, seaglassvillage.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 50+ residents of the greater Marblehead, Swampscott, and Nahant area
- Social events and outings, educational programs, interest groups, technology assistance, friendly phone calls and visits, light household tasks, gardening, transportation, service referrals, and short-term support (meals, mail, house-minding)
- Annual membership fees: $360 individual, $540 household; social membership fee: $120; subsidized memberships available
- 888 Worcester Street, Suite 260, Wellesley, 781-283-0417, wellesleyneighbors.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents of Dover, Natick, Needham, Wellesley, and Weston
- Service referrals, transportation, technology assistance, speaker series, interest groups, errands, social and cultural events, Wellesley College partnership with access to the College Club, and volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership fees: $440 individual, $580 household (two or more people); six-month introductory membership: $220 individual, $290 household; discounted memberships for those who qualify for financial assistance