Talking to our Parents When They Need Our Help
In working with the adult children of seniors, I often get questions such as “How do I convince them to come live with me?” or “What do I say to convince them they need more help in the house?”
While there is never just one way to address these difficult questions, I would like to tell a short story of a conversation I had in the last few days. The person to whom I was speaking told of a short conversation she had with her mother during a recent visit. She had become very concerned about her mother, living alone in a multi-level home, with a shrinking social circle. Visiting her mother from out of town, she reported they had a very nice visit. And toward the end of the stay, she said to her “Wouldn’t it be great if we could spend more time together?” And her mother wholeheartedly agreed.
For the time being, their conversation ended there. But the statement was the perfect entry into a longer conversation, which they will probably have soon. It said to her mother that she just wanted to be with her. At least for the time being, it had nothing to do with the issues of safety, declining health, etc.
It just had to do with love. And it was a great place to start.
With recognition that older adults prefer to age in place in their own homes and in the communities they have known, the Village Concept has taken off across America. Villages are now operating in 56 communities, and are in development in 120 more. Each is locally organized and managed, making each unique and reflecting the needs of the local community it serves.
The concept of “a village” was first conceived in 2001 in the U.S. in the Beacon Hill area of Boston. Designed as an organization of both volunteers and paid staff, villages “are
membership-driven, grass-roots organizations that, through both volunteers and paid staff, coordinate access to affordable services including transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities, and other day-to-day needs enabling individuals to remain connected to their community throughout the aging process” (Village to Village Network website FAQs).
Membership in a village means access to a variety of services that may include yard work, pet sitting, transportation to appointments, snow removal, and handyman services, in
addition to access to social and cultural events such as photography classes, art classes and theater events. Some villages offer reduced priced exercise groups.
Village members pay an annual membership fee to be in the village. Throughout the U.S., the fees range from $50 – $900.
If your neighborhood hasn’t started a village, and you see a need for it, there are two
good resources to get started:
The Village to Village network website at www.vtvnetwork.org,
Beacon Hill Village how-to manual on creating a village “The Village Concept: A Founders Manual” at http://tinyurl.com/6atnqva.