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Growing Older Together: A community initiative

By Marcia Nehemiah
June 29, 2016

In 2012, 43.1 million people age 65 and over lived in the United States, accounting for 14% of the total population. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the population aged 85 years old and over could grow to 18.7 million by 2050.

That percentage is even higher in our region. According to the 2010 census, in Wayne County, PA, 20.1% of the population is 65 years of age or older, and in neighboring Sullivan County, NY, 16.2% are 65 and older.

As we grow older, we may face unique challenges that make it more difficult to live a high quality of life on our own. But assisted living facilities are too expensive for many, and simply not an attractive alternative for many more. How can we enjoy a high quality of life at home, remaining in our communities, as we grow older?

Motivated by such questions, and by personal encounters with older neighbors, the founders of Growing Older Together (GOT), a not-for-profit organization currently in its formative stage, has adopted an innovative model called the “Village” to help older people remain in their homes through their later lives.

A Village is a membership-driven, grass-roots organization that, through both volunteers and paid staff, serves an aging population by coordinating timely access to affordable services including transportation, health and wellness programs, social and educational activities, and other day-to-day needs such as grocery shopping, gardening, cleaning, simple home repairs and chores. These services enable individuals to remain in their homes and stay connected to their community as they age.

While many of these services and resources already exist in our community, our Village will be a one-stop resource where members can be referred to a volunteer, vendor, service provider, or program with confidence that GOT has reviewed and pre-approved the providers and has contracted for discounts where possible.

Based on many discussions and meetings with community members, GOT has learned that older residents in our area seek alternatives to the option of institutional living. GOT is such an alternative, making it possible for our aging neighbors to live safely, comfortably and independently in their homes. Our mission is to give older adult residents in Wayne County, PA, Sullivan County, NY and surrounding areas both the practical means and the social connections to live independently in homes of their choice.