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Why It Can Take a Village to Care for a Retiree

With retirement villages, older Americans can age in place with the benefit of community and a helping hand.

For every retiree that packs up and moves to Florida, Arizona or some other warm-weather spot, another four or five prefer to stay right where they are. But as they get older, many people find themselves needing more help, whether it's a referral to someone who can fix a leaky toilet, a ride to the doctor or simply a few friends to keep them company.

The first such village was launched in 2001 in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood by a handful of residents who didn't want to relocate to Florida, move in with their children or end up in assisted living communities. Today, there are about 160 villages nationwide, each slightly different, but all seeking to provide older Americans the services they need to stay in their homes.

Most villages are run by their members, though a few are part of larger organizations. Some have a small paid staff, and others are run by volunteers. Many groups provide courtesy rides to visit the doctor or go shopping, or volunteers to come over and help out with something simple like changing a light bulb that an older resident can't reach.

Most villages need to engage in fundraising or seek grants to cover startup costs. They typically charge an annual membership fee as well. Beacon Hill charges $675 a year for an individual and $975 for a household but offers discounted rates of $110 and $160 to lower-income seniors. Austin's Capital Hill Village offers tiers of membership, with annual rates from $100 to $800.

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