NY Times: Village System Helps Seniors Age in Place

It takes a village to help a senior age in place, finds a New York Times article. At least, that’s the case for Lincoln Park Village, a non-profit organization in Chicago that lends support to local seniors, and 63 other similar organizations across the nation.

“In many instances, with just a little bit of help, people can stay in the place they love and call home, and continue to be independent,” Dianne Campbell, the village’s executive director, said in a video interview.

Lincoln Park Village serves 165 households and 270 members, and is run from a small office with two staffers and a handful of volunteers. Members must be at least 50 years of age and must pay an annual fee of $540, or $780 for a household; fees range from around $400 to $700 in other villages, according to the Village-to-Village Network.


They can call the Village office if they need assistance for a variety of needs, including a rides to doctors’ appointments, help changing light bulbs, or assistance with Medicare paperwork. The office then connects members with the services they need, often for discounted prices. Many times, volunteers are available to help out.

“Having a support system that can get you the services when and if you need them, but get them at home, seemed to make a lot of sense,” James Zartman, 83, one of the Lincoln Park Village’s founders, said in the article.

While people can’t remain in their homes forever, necessarily, one member said, it lengthens the time they can maintain their independence while getting help similar to what they might receive in an assisted living facility—but at a much lower cost.


While these villages primarily exist in upper- to moderate-income level neighborhoods, they need to spread into more diverse locales if they want to become cost effective, advocates from the Village-to-Village Network say.

Campbell described the Lincoln Park organization as a “slow grower,” calling the price level a barrier; neighborhood residents who don’t require physical assistance are often unwilling to pay membership fees.

“People say, ‘I don’t need it now, I’ll join it when I do,’” said Zartman in the New York Times article. “But in the interim, the village will have gone down the tubes because nobody supported it.”

The village is either a necessity for somebody who has many needs, or can be viewed as an insurance policy, said one of the founders, calling it a “tough sell” in the current economy.

View the full article here, as well as a video of the Lincoln Park Village.

Written by Alyssa Gerace