03 Jun Looking for the Perfect Place to Grow Old? Try Washington D.C.!
Martha Baron, 79, has found the ideal place to grow old. Her happy place is just half a block from her Washington D.C. condominium—the Newark Street Community Garden. During the growing season, Ms. Baron visits her two organic garden plots where she tends to her flowers, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs on a daily basis. But it’s more than growing and harvesting her crops. “It’s a wonderful place to meet others of all ages from all different walks of life with similar interests, and it gives me a purpose,” said Ms. Baron.
Such opportunities are helping make Washington an ideal place to grow old
After her husband died, Ms. Baron moved to Washington to be near her children and grandchildren. Like many seniors, she found it difficult to meet new people and make friends. That’s all changed. She joined the garden and became a member of Cleveland & Woodley Park Village, an organization of volunteers that provides services like shopping trips and transportation to doctor appointments and plans social outings for older adults.
87% of adults 65 and older want to stay in their own communities as they age
These statistics are consistent across the U.S. as cities grapple with the needs of older adults. The nonprofit Milken Institute’s Best Cities for Successful Living report found several cities to be ahead of the curve–smaller cities like Iowa City, and Sioux Falls, S.D., and larger ones like Washington, Boston and New York.
Washington’s success may be due to the growth of a concept called “Villages”
Ms. Baron’s Village, at $500 a year, has 100 members, aged 57 to 95, and 160 volunteers. It’s one of 15 Villages across the district and more than 50 throughout the Washington metro area. These Villages are part of an international effort supported by the WHO as part of an effort it launched in 2007 for cities that serve aging populations.
For the development of a Village program, WHO recommends a rigorous five-year process in which city leaders, businesses and government agencies focus on improving the elements that affect seniors’ quality of life. These include:
- Affordable housing. The ability to downsize and find smaller, low-cost housing.
- Availability of public transportation—busses and ridesharing. Safe paths for walking and biking.
- Grocery stores with healthy food options.
- Opportunities to participate in civic and cultural events.
- Access to a retail sector with drugstores, banks and a library.
- Houses of worship, safe parks and open spaces.
Ensuring that seniors can participate in the life of a community
As part of the Age-Friendly Cities program, Washington has increased the number of parks and open spaces, equipping them with seating, drinking fountains and restrooms. They’ve developed neighborhood walks, tai chi and the community gardens like Ms. Baron’s that provide opportunities to stay active and meet new people.
Washington D.C. has developed other programs that help seniors age in place
- East Capitol Urban Farm, a vacant three-acre plot in Ward 7 is being turned into a new urban farm.
- Safe at Home provides grants of up to $10,000 for homeowners to make their houses safer and more livable—such as adding grab bars or wheelchair access.
- Genesis, aGenerations of Hope residence, is a 27-unit affordable community that brings together residents 60 and older with young families and single mothers transitioning from the foster care system.
- Affordable housing for grandfamilies. Plans call for a 12-story affordable-housing development that will offer subsidized housing and services for grandparents raising grandchildren. Fifty of the 223 apartments for low-income residents will be set aside for such “grandfamilies.”
Cities will look to Washington, D.C. as a model for senior services
Many of our clients are seniors who come in to our offices to create their Living Trusts, so health care issues and retirement planning are frequent topics. This inspiring article about Washington D.C.’s work to create innovative programs can serve as a model for other cities as they strive to provide safe, affordable services for their senior populations.
During this health crisis, many are feeling an urgency to create a Living Trust
Our Trust package includes a Will, Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive and Incapacity Planning. We guide you through the process and prepare the legal documents. At California Document Preparers, for most of our services, we charge one flat fee. We’re helpful, compassionate and affordable. Schedule an appointment today at one of our three Bay Area offices in Dublin, Walnut Creek or Oakland.
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This story is based on a story in The New York Times by Kerry Hannon.