|By CONSTANCE GUSTKE|
Then he ran across the idea of virtual retirement villages, whose members pay a yearly fee to gain access to resources and social connections that help them age in place. Sold on the concept,
“Our virtual village can connect me with people my own age so I can do more things,” said
An offshoot of the sharing economy, virtual villages are popping up all over the country. Currently, there are 140 villages in 40 states, according to Village to
These villages are low-cost ways to age in place and avoid costly assisted-living facilities, say experts. Yearly membership dues average about
At the core of these villages is conciergelike service referrals for members, said
This socializing gives people a greater sense of purpose and increases well-being, said Dr.
“As people get older, they face the major dilemma of isolation,”
Virtual village members stay in touch through village websites and email, or by calling local village offices. Many villages also turn to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stay in touch,
A desire to age in place surrounded by friends was the impetus behind the nation’s first virtual village,
People who passionately believe in controlling their lives are best suited to the villages, said
The village, she added, “gives you a sense of worth and accomplishment.”
Preliminary studies show that virtual villages are indeed working. They increase confidence that a person will be able to stay at home and reduce possible falls, said
“The whole idea is being engaged and helping one another,” said
In the future, baby boomers will push virtual villages into mass acceptance,
One lure is that virtual villages can be tweaked to fit any environment — including the country. Monadnock at Home, which serves eight small towns in
The village has only about a dozen social events a year, such as maple sugaring parties, though. “We’re a bunch of loners up here,” said
A former boy scout,
For all their good works, virtual villages usually are not equipped to handle serious illnesses. A few villages, however, are experimenting with health care-related innovations.
“Economically, virtual villages are a great deal,” said
Why? Virtual villages are essentially nonprofits, and many are only partly supported by member dues. Dues account for over half of funding,
“Every village has a board that does the work,” she said, along with committees.
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|Source:||New York Times Digital|