Options for long-term care were once very limited when it came to independent, assisted and nursing home living. Because 90 percent of Americans prefer to stay home as they age, communities and organizations have been cropping up around the United States — and internationally — to aid them in that goal. There are naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) that cater to those who don’t want to leave their home or community as they age. Eden Alternative is another innovation in the world of aging, where the focus is on de-institutionalizing long-term care. These two, along with a number of other organizations and care facilities, are making life for the aging adult more pleasurable — focusing on growth in these later years as opposed to declining health and well-being. Learn more about these long-term care options.
Alternatives to Long-term Care
Eden Alternative: Focused on changing the atmosphere and experience found in long-term care facilities, the Eden Alternative is a not-for-profit organization with 300 registered homes in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia. Their focus is on bringing life and wellness into institutional-like elder care settings. Often, these facilities are blooming with plants, are home to many pets and encourage children to visit, which they believe will help stave off the emotional and mental breakdown that can come along with loneliness and helplessness. The goal isn’t just to de-institutionalize nursing and long-term care facilities, but also to renovate the culture and management of each. The Eden Alternative believes that facilities should not be run from the top down, but should incorporate the opinions and ideas of their residents.
The Eden Alternative is also helping older adults stay in their homes as they age with the Eden at Home initiative, which works to de-institutionalize at-home care. To learn more about the Eden Alternative and all of its initiatives, visit their website: www.edenalt.org.
The Green House Project: Much like the Eden Alternative, the Green House Project caters to the life of the older adult rather than to their health needs only. The idea behind this project is to provide our loved ones with an excellent quality of life enriched by relationships with qualified staff who choose to work in an environment focused on enriching the life of the older adult. Taking the sterility out of long-term care, the Green House Project provides a warm environment with a focus on community, relationships, well-being and happiness — where there is a true "heart" to the home. With only six to 10 residents per home, Green Houses provide each person with a private room and bathroom that can be decorated to each resident’s liking. Each Green House has an open living and dining area, emphasizing the importance of social relationships among the residents and staff.
As of mid-2018, there were 246 Green Houses operating in the United States, with more in development, supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To look for a Green House near you, visit thegreenhouseproject.org.
Aging in Place
There are organizations popping up all over the country that cater to older adults who prefer to stay in their homes rather than moving to retirement, assisted or nursing facilities. Here are a few examples:
Beacon Hill Village: Boston’s Beacon Hill Village is an organization that caters to a community of older adults who want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. There are 400 members throughout central Boston, 50 and older, who partake in Beacon Hill Village’s services. These include everything from dog walking to geriatric care management. Beacon Hill Village operates on a membership basis, with both subsidized and unsubsidized options available. Members can take advantage of social activities, day trips and exercise classes in addition to the basic services. For more on Beacon Hill Village, visit their website.
Capitol Hill Village
Capitol Hill Village is a non-profit membership organization in the heart of our nation’s capital, which offers typical retirement home services in an in-home setting for its members. Developed by a group of local retirees, this organization’s main function is to provide a network of services to individuals so they can continue to live in their own homes as long as possible. Help with everything from in-home healthcare, gardening and household chores is available. This is another great example of older adults taking charge of their future and is a model that can be replicated in other cities, suburbs and rural areas around the country. Visit Capitol Hill Village’s website for more information.
There are many more facilities and communities in the United States and abroad that are taking the needs of our older loved ones to heart. For information and resources for older adults wishing to remain in their own homes or communities-at-large, check out AARP’s Age-Friendly Archive.