Family Care Inspired Village Idea

Article excerpt

An important aspect of developing the Westchester County Livable Communities initiative for older adults was the hands-on knowledge of caregiving I brought to the planning process. I've been the primary care coordinator for three older widowed and childless aunts for the past several years. I periodically travel from New York to the Midwest to visit them, but my main role is long-distance caregiver.

To help provide for their needs, I called on social and religious organizations, friends and neighbors to create what I call informal villages. In one community, members of a bridge club and a college sorority provided the informal care. I drew on these and other experiences as the Livable Communities Initiative began coming to life.

REACHING OUT

In Westchester County, over many months, we told people about our plans by reaching out to houses of worship, service organizations, neighborhood associations, schools and other groups. We also surveyed every municipality in the county to document their assets and informal services. In addition, we worked closely with AARP, which boasts 150,000 members in Westchester County. The organization gave us a generous grant to fund sessions in which community residents set priorities about what they hoped to achieve in their regions. …