A New Model for Elder Care:
Virtual Senior Living Community
Sponsored by Jewish Family Service, Center for Successful Aging, AARP and
Judy Willet, Executive Director of Beacon Hill Village
Most of us would prefer to maintain our lifestyle and independence at home as we age. A new model for a "virtual senior living community" organizes and delivers programs and services that allow its members to lead safe, healthy and productive lives in their own homes. Whether it's home repair, medical management, massage, hairstyling or computer help, community members can choose from a menu of services that provide whatever is needed for quality of life at home. Additional benefits might include a transportation program for things such as appointments or shopping, and a community center with options for participating in group activities and connecting with others.
The program enables adult children peace of mind, knowing that their parents are being attended to and cared for. Membership costs can be kept low, especially compared with residential assisted living, which many seniors cannot afford.
One full-service program exists in Boston, at Beacon Hill Village, which was started in 2001 by local residents who wanted to stay in their homes. Beacon Hill Village members range in needs from minimal to all-consuming. Some need help carrying packages when they shop, another needs help watering her plants because the watering can is too heavy. One resident called when she couldn't get her cat in the carrier to take it to the vet. Others have daily aides for full- or part-time help.
Santa Barbara is uniquely poised to develop this sort of program. With the growth of the aging baby boomer population, and the overextension of our facilities and medical care system, this model is a viable alternative to institutional care. For those not yet needing help, this is an opportunity to plan for the future.
Want to be involved? For more information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson, JFS Director: firstname.lastname@example.org or 805.957.1115 x119 or www.jewishsantabarbara.org. Dr. Wolfson is the Director of the Jewish Family Service.
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Photos by Ross Payson