Friday, February 15, 2008

Senior Co-op Neighborhood

I have often met older people who are alone. Some are estranged from their families and others had never married or married but never had children. Their immediate families of brothers or sisters have predeceased them and they are alone. Yet, they want to remain in their own homes as the majority of seniors do, even with family all around them.

While many organizations exist to support seniors who wish to age in place at home, one of the newest of these is the senior co-op concept. What is a senior co-op? Taken from the CSA Journal 37 2007, "it's as simple as a group of people agreeing to make their neighborhood a comfortable place to grow old."

The Northeast area was first to begin a senior co-op at Boston's Beacon Hill Village in 2001. The scene goes something like this; a community forms a non-profit organization and members pay dues for services ranging from transportation to home repair, and security to companionship. The idea is to ensure older people can remain in their homes as long as possible. It would be a comforting concept that predetermined chefs, carpenters, or a home health aid is just a phone call away.

Services offered by a non profit membership organization may be able to offer the prearranged services more cost efficiently than individual hire for the same services. The co-op concept is still in its infancy and critics of the idea say it's only for the wealthy. It seems to me that taking proposals from subcontractors works the same for everyone. It depends on the level of service to determine what cost is assigned to that service. After all, it's about keeping the seniors in their homes and maintaining dignity and independence as long as possible. I think I'd like to get a testimonial from a co-op member before I form an opinion. It's an interesting concept and I'll be watching this one.

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