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 Puget Sound 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 Puget Sound Area
Eastside Friends of Seniors
- 1121 228th Avenue SE, Sammamish, 425-369-9120, eastsidefriendsofseniors.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 60+ residents of Issaquah and Sammamish
- Transportation to medical appointments, assistance with shopping and errands, friendly phone calls, home and yard chores, and service referrals
- Free, donations accepted
Eastside Neighbors Network
- P.O. Box 854, Bellevue, 425-270-8408, eastsideneighborsnetwork.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 50+ residents of Bellevue for full service memberships; serves anyone in the Eastside area for builder (social) memberships
- ?Service referrals, social, cultural, and educational events, interest groups, volunteer opportunities, transportation, friendly visits and phone calls, household help/maintenance assistance, gardening help, and technology assistance
- Full service annual membership: $300 individual, $500 couple; builder annual membership (no volunteer services): $120 individual, $200 couple; subsidized memberships may be available
Full Life Care ElderFriends
- 206-224-3790, fulllifecare.org/services/elderfriends, [email protected]
- Serves age 60+ King County residents
- Friendly visits at least twice a month, social gatherings, monthly encouraging cards, and Thanksgiving meal delivery
Northwest Neighbors Network
- P.O. Box 293, Edmonds, 253-237-2848, northwestneighborsnetwork.org, [email protected]
- Serves residents of Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, Woodway, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, and Brier
- Service referrals, educational and social events, transportation, minor home maintenance, light yard work, technology assistance, friendly visits and phone calls, and walks
- Recommended dues: $600 for full-service couple membership, $120 per person for social membership; no one will be turned away based on ability to pay
NEST North East Seattle Together?
- P.O.Box 51009, Seattle, 206-525-6378, nestseattle.org, [email protected]
- For full service membership, serves residents of the neighborhoods of Maple Leaf, Meadowbrook, Matthews Beach, Wedgwood, Roosevelt, Ravenna, View Ridge, Sand Point, Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Windermere, Laurelhurst, and University District
- Social events, educational programs, transportation, technology assistance, pet care, minor home repairs, household upkeep, grocery shopping, yard and garden help, friendly visits and walks, interest groups, service referrals
- Full access annual membership (includes volunteer services; must reside in service area): individual $650, household $975; builder annual membership: household $350; subsidized memberships available
PNA (Phinney Neighborhood Association) Village
- 525 N. 85th Street, Seattle, 206-789-1217, phinneycenter.org/village, [email protected]
- For residents of the Phinney, Greenwood, Ballard, Broadview, Bitter Lake, Haller Lake, Licton Springs, Wallingford, and Fremont neighborhoods; residents outside these neighborhoods welcome to join as builder members and volunteers
- Service referrals, social events, interest groups, minor home maintenance and repairs, transportation, friendly visits and phone calls, garden and yardwork, pet care, health advocacy help, technology assistance, and PNA membership
- Full annual membership: individual $360, household $600; builder annual membership (does not include volunteer services): individual $180, household $300; reduced fee memberships available based on income eligibility
South Whidbey at Home
- P.O. Box 557, Langley, 360-331-1971, swathome.org, [email protected]
- Serves age 55+ residents of South Whidbey Island (south of Classic Road)
- Transportation, light gardening, technology assistance, walking/exercise buddy, short-term pet care, friendly visits and phone calls, minor household repairs and chores, errands, and social and educational activities
- Annual membership: $240 per household (up to 2 household members); reduced-fee memberships available
- P.O. Box 848, Vashon, 206-463-5173, vashon.helpfulvillage.com, [email protected]
- Serves residents of Gold Beach, Town, Dolphin Point, and Lisabuela
- Transportation, everyday home chores, social gatherings
- 2433 East Valley Street, Seattle, 206-650-3586, widerhorizonsvillage.org
- Open to anyone; most members reside in Zip codes 98101, 98102, 98104, 98112, and 98144
- Educational and cultural programs, social events, fitness activities, interest groups, transportation, home maintenance and small repairs, gardening help, errands, paperwork, pet care, technology assistance, de-cluttering help, friendly visits, service referrals, health advocacy and referrals, caregiver support, volunteer opportunities
- Annual membership: Individual $600, household $900; subsidies available