New senior ‘villages’ forming in state

Interest in the “village movement” for aging in the community continues to spread across the country and state.  A new village called Love Living at Home was recently incorporated in the Ithaca area.  Rhinebeck at Home in the Hudson Valley also is a relatively new village.

In Albany, Livingston Village is being developed by Senior Services of Albany in a public school recently converted into senior apartments. There are a number of villages in Westchester County and they are working with the Center for Aging in Place Services there, which provides support.  There are also villages in New York City, in Long Island, and in the western part of the state.  

The Albany Guardian Society has hosted two meetings this year to provide information about how to develop villages.  Community Caregivers is interested in discussing and supporting the village concept with other local seniors interested in setting up villages in Albany County.

The Village Movement became a national organization, which is based in St. Louis.  Its national website can be reached at this link to get a look at the various organizations around the state and nation that have identified themselves as either formed or interested in forming a village:

The village movement began several years ago in Boston when Beacon Hill Village was formed by neighbors who wanted to join to help each other stay in their homes or community.  Dues were charged to provide a staff and some services though the models in each community are different and reflect the desires of the local group.

In addition to the services provided, the connection to an organization run by the members builds a sense of community and support and reduces isolation and the feeling of not being able to manage the challenges of living at home and aging.

Since the first village, the movement has taken off because of the local connection and hands-on participation.  However, maintaining a village is difficult and many face issues related to ongoing financing to support staffing and the usual turnover and “aging out” of older activists who were the original founders.

Increasingly, villages are being organized by existing not-for-profits that can provide some ongoing support, though many still spring up as local efforts of community volunteers.

Of course, New York State has many other aging-in-place communities like the NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities) that are funded by the State Office for the Aging and the New York City Department for the Aging. NORCs in these government programs have definitions that were in legislation so they are not as open-ended as a local village might be.

Villages and NORCs complement the formal health-care system and the formal aging network, providing services based on income and eligibility for the most part.  It is critical to support and engage self-help community groups as well as caregivers and volunteers.  It is also important that the state continue to nurture and support the movement.

Community Caregivers, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides non-medical services and caregiver support at no charge to residents in Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors. To find out more about our services or volunteering, please visit or call 456-2898.

Editor’s note: Michael Burgess serves as a consultant to Community Caregivers; he formerly headed the New York State Office for the Aging.