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New Concept in Senior Living Creates Rapid Expansion of Intentional Communities
Phyllis May_ Ph.D. -- Retirement Speaker and Coach Phyllis May_ Ph.D. -- Retirement Speaker and Coach
Key West , FL
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Before 2001, few people were familiar with the concept of "intentional communities" until the first one was formed in Boston. Beacon Hill Village was the first intentional community and there are now communities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the first International Community in Australia.

For the next 20 years, an average 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily and many people in their 50s, 60s and 70s are asking the question, "Where will I be living?" In the past, this question is often addressed once something has happened unexpectedly and decisions are made under duress, often without the input of the person involved. The decisions, while often necessary, are also often traumatic for everyone involved. Moving back with children, considering in-home care and assisted living facilities or nursing homes have been the usual options in the past but intentional communities have begun to create an answer to aging in place, in your own home.

The flagship community and model for others was the one formed by a group of Beacon Hll residents in 2001 as an alternative to moving from their houses. And while these communities might imply a physical neighborhood, they are not. Beacon Hill Village is a concept, not a location, and includes members from many Boston areas.

Intentional communities are membership organizations in which dues are paid for services, services that allow people to continue to live in their neighborhood close to friends and in their home. As members in intentional communities age, the community organizes and develops programs and services that allow them to lead safe, healthy and productive lives in their own home.

Ages range from 50 and older and members are both single and married. While services vary according to the needs and interests of each individual community, BHV says, "From groceries to Tai Chi to cultural and social activities to home care, Beacon Hill Village members get what they need to enjoy their lives…and peace of mind. "

Membership costs vary from village to village but at BHV, an annual membership is $600 for an individual and $860 for a couple. A membership can be purchased for someone else, for example, a parent.

HouseWorks, founded in 1998 by Andrea Cohen in Boston, was intended to be a different kind of private-pay home care company, more responsive or reliable than any of its predecessors. Cohen's vision has been to help seniors live at home, no matter how challenging their situation. A fundamental innovation has been the entrepreneurial approach to service delivery, a customer driven approach that returns a sense of control to adult children and their elderly parents. Rather than telling customers what they can or should have, HouseWorks listens to what they want and attempts to meet their needs.

Because of their unique philosophy, it was only fitting for HouseWorks to become affiliated with BHV when it was formed and Cohen has been a fervent advocate of the concept of intentional communities.

As the leader in intentional communities, the website for BHV (www.beaconhllvillage.org) contains a page of all the other villages with contact information. There are additional pages for those interested in forming an organization in their community and a link to www.vtv.org ,a village- to-village website of resources.

In nine years, intentional communities have spread from the vision of a few Boston colleagues to a concept which allows members in a growing number of states and countries  to get what they need to enjoy their lives…and peace of mind.

Phyllis May, Ph.D.
Key West, FL
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