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 Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood 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 Chicago area. Did we miss any? Have an update to the info we collected? Email us at edit[email protected]. We’ll try to keep this list up to date.
Elder Villages in the Chicago Area
Traditional, Membership-based Elder Villages:
Arbor West Neighbors
- P.O. Box 1584, Oak Park, arborwestneighbors.org, [email protected]
- Focuses on neighborhoods of Austin, Forest Park, Oak Park, and River Forest; accepts members living anywhere
- Civic projects and events, volunteer opportunities, social events, informative events, technology help, walking groups, movies and discussions, storytelling
- Suggested dues: $50 annually per individual, $75 annually per couple
Chicago Hyde Park Village
- 5500 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, 773-363-1933, chpv.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents of Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods
- ?Health and wellness activities, social events and outings, service referrals, transportation, medical appointment companions, errand help, friendly phone calls, companionship, exercise classes, interest groups, technology assistance, and volunteer opportunities
- Individual full membership: $480 annually; household full membership: $590 annually; associate membership: $100 annually individual, $180 annually household
North Shore Village Network
- P.O. Box 8070, Evanston, 847-721-1413, nsvnetwork.org, [email protected]
- Serves older residents of Chicago’s North Shore
- Transportation, light household maintenance and chores, errands, friendly visits, respite care, technology assistance, social events, interest groups, educational and cultural events, exercise activities
- Individual full membership: $550 annually; household: $715 annually. Supported full membership (for those participating in Illinois Benefits Access program): $120 annually per individual; Social membership: $250 annually per individual; $315 annually per household
Skyline Village Chicago
- P.O. Box 11606, Chicago, 312-316-3607, skyline.clubexpress.com, [email protected]
- Serves residents of the Gold Coast, The Loop, New East Side, River North, and Streeterville
- Social, cultural, and educational activities
- Individual membership: $75 annually; household membership: $100 annually
South Loop Village
- 233 E. 13th Street #1403, Chicago, 312-225-4406, southloopvillage.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents in the South Loop area bounded by Congress Parkway on the north, 35th Street to the south, Clark Street to the west, and Lake Michigan on the east
- Monthly memory café
- No membership fee, though some programs may have a minimal cost; donations accepted
The Village Chicago
- 2502 N. Clark Street, Chicago, 773-248-8700, thevillagechicago.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 50+ residents of Chicago’s North Side communities
- Technology assistance, transportation, educational programs, social events, friendly visits and phone calls, pet care, exercise programs, gardening help, cultural and interest groups, service referrals, brain health and memory loss program, discussion groups
- Individual membership: $540 annually; household membership (2 members): $780 annually; 3-person household membership: $900 annually, reduced-fee memberships available
Free, Senior-center-based Villages:
As part of its Age-Friendly initiative, the City of Chicago has created villages, called “Village Interdependent Collaboratives (VICs),” associated with its 21 senior centers. Chicago residents can join these villages for free.
Below are a few examples of Chicago VICs and what they offer. For a full list of locations, visit chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/senior/svcs/regional_senior_centers.html
Age-Friendly Englewood Village Chicago
- Serves age 55+ residents of Englewood and surrounding areas
- Wellness check-ins, assistance finding housing and health insurance, discounts, Café 65, See Me! Seniors on the Move activities, social and educational activities and events
Auburn Gresham VIC
- 1040 West 79th Street, Chicago, 312-745-4797, auburn.webs.com, [email protected]
- Serves seniors of Auburn Gresham and Grand Crossing neighborhoods
- Social and learning events
Edgewater Village Chicago
- 5917 North Broadway, Chicago, 773-382-0764, evchicago.org, [email protected]
- Open to any Chicago resident; focuses on older adults in Edgewater and other nearby neighborhoods on the Far North Side
- Social and exercise activities, educational events, interest groups, speakers, volunteer opportunities
Garfield Ridge VIC
- Garfield Ridge Satellite Senior Center, 5674-B South Archer Avenue, Chicago, 773-217-0240, [email protected]
- Serves seniors in the Garfield Ridge community
- Connects seniors to resources, educates seniors on aging in place
NE Levy Center Village
- Northeast (Levy) Senior Center, 2019 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago
- Serves seniors
- Monthly meetings, informational workshops and seminars, social and civic opportunities
- Roseland Senior Satellite Center, 10426 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, roselandvic.webs.com, [email protected]
- Serves age 55+ residents of the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods
- Friendly phone calls, social, cultural, and learning events
South Chicago Village
- 9233 South Burley Avenue, Chicago, 312-745-1365, southchicagovillage.webs.com
- Serves age 55+ residents of South Chicago
- Friendly phone calls, household and yard chores, technology assistance, adopt-a-senior program, grandfamily program, resources directory, resource referrals, discounts, volunteer opportunities, seniors market, social events