Data: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
By 2040, the number of residents in the Chicago metropolitan area ages 65 to 84 is projected to double, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning found. CLICK on graph to see full-size image.
Joyce Gallagher (in red with microphone), executive director of the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services Senior Services Area Agency on Aging, presented the city’s plan on aging and asked seniors for feedback at various public hearings.
Dorothy Schmidt, 92 of Edgewater, said she plays her organ every day to help with her arthritis. At least once a week, Schmidt said she also visits the Edgewater Satellite Senior Center for meal services.
Lincoln Park resident Liz Ware, 76, talks about the importance of aging in place and services that help her remain in her own home.
Dorothy Schmidt, 92 of Edgewater, talks about the benefits of remaining in her own home and the ways she keeps busy.
Related LinksCity of Chicago: Department of Family and Support Services Senior Services Are Agency on AgingIllinois Department on AgingChicago Metropolitan Agency for PlanningCenter on Aging, University of ChicagoElder Care HelperLincoln Park VillageNorth Shore VillageVillage to Village NetworkRelated story: Home-improvement services helps seniors age in and with communities
It takes a village to care for seniors
In 2002, a group of Boston seniors formed the first village, a nonprofit that provides volunteer-based services that help older adults age in place.
Since then, the number of villages has totaled more than 85 nationwide with at least 120 more in development, according to a study prepared by the State University of New Jersey’s School of Social Work.
In Illinois, there are five villages, two of which are in development, according to the Village to Village Network, a national network that helps establish and manage villages.
“It’s like we’re taking control again,” said Jane Curry, who previously served as a founding board member of the Lincoln Park Village, which has garnered nearly 365 members. “We’re going to change our communities in ways that make us feel more involved in our community, but provide services for us to stay.”
Some villages offer its members a variety of social events such as workshops, tour groups and concerts, as well as recommends service providers for members’ specific needs, such as home maintenance and construction.
“They want to have control over how they age,” said Tommi Ferguson, member engagement manager at the North Shore Village, which serves nearly 300 Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette residents. “This is how they’re voicing their preferences to stay where they want for as long as they want.”
An important part of the village concept is the volunteer aspect, said Dianne Campbell, founding executive director of the Lincoln Park Village, which serves Lincoln Park, Lake View and Near North residents 50 and older.
“It starts by providing a give-help, get-help network,” Campbell said. “Part of aging well is opportunities to contribute and give back. We can do that as being part of a larger community.”
Village member Wally Shah, 79, a mechanical engineer before he retired, said he volunteers to help members with small repairs. Similarly, Liz Ware, 76, another village member, said she drives people to appointments and events and helps them with gardening.
Although village members pay an annual membership, Campbell and Ferguson said reduced-rate options are available.
Annual membership rates for the Lincoln Park Village range from $540 for singles to $780 for households. For members with limited fixed incomes, a reduced-rate option is available for $100 annually for singles.
At the North Shore Village, annual full membership range from $540 for individuals to $680 for households. Full members receive priority access to the village’s services. Affiliate members, who can be of any age, pay less annually but engage with programs on a space-available basis. These annual rates range from $150 for individuals to $175 for households. Reduced rates are also available on a case-by-case basis, Ferguson said.
The North Shore Village, Ferguson said, retains nearly 85 percent of its members.
Similarly, Campbell said that although the membership fee is sometimes a deterrent from joining, the renewal rate remains high at about 88 percent.
“What we give is very, very special and we want to make sure we’re here tomorrow,” Campbell said. “We have programs that bring people together to do things that they like to do. We know learning new things and being socially engaged is positive for aging well.”