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After more than 40 years living with her husband in Wilton, Connecticut, Elizabeth knew she wanted to spend their remaining years in the home they shared in the community they’d come to love.
But Peter was no longer physically able, and at age 86, Elizabeth was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the day-to-day tasks.
Peter had always been the one to drive the couple to their doctor, or grocery shopping. He took care of the little things around the house and managed the hiring of garbage pickup, lawn care and more. Elizabeth could do all that, but at her age also new she didn’t want to be standing on a ladder to change a light bulb!
Along with needing just a little help around the house, she also wanted to stay a part of the community.
Stay at Home in Wilton was the answer.
For a small membership fee, Elizabeth was able to get help with the little things – like trips to the store or dentist and help around the house when needed.
What’s more, the volunteers at Stay at Home were wonderful people, friendly and kind members of the community who went above and beyond to see that she and Peter had everything they needed. Occasionally they would come over for dinner, or enjoy an evening out together at a community play.
“Every night when I go to bed I thank God for Stay at Home in Wilton. We could not stay in our home without them,” she says.
Aging in Place programs like Stay at Home in Wilton are part of a growing trend across the country. According to AARP research, 90 percent of adults age 50 and older prefer to stay in their homes while they age. Here in Connecticut and nationally, AARP works to advance legislation and policies that support the ability of individuals to remain in their homes and communities as they age.
For current seniors, and Baby Boomers who are beginning to reach their retirement years, knowing they will be able to live out their lives in the community they raised their family in is a comfort.
“For seniors who don’t require professional care, but can benefit from help around the house and with transportation, these programs are incredibly helpful – especially in our suburban towns where public transportation isn’t available and a supermarket may be 10 miles away,” said Nancy von Euler, Program Director at the Fairfield County Community Foundation. “For those just entering the Baby Boom whose parents are in their later years, knowing that mom and dad are being supported by a community of volunteers is a welcome relief as well.”
The Foundation supports these aging in place programs as part of a coordinated EngAgement effort to help seniors stay in their homes and to connect them to community resources. The communities also benefit from having elderly residents who care about the town, are willing to help out and volunteer locally and participate fully in community events and activities.
With almost 200 aging-in-place organizations around the county, the services offered vary to fit each community’s needs. For example, when you turn sixty in Darien, you’re automatically a member of At Home In Darien -- no fees, no pre-qualifiers. The organization is funded by annual fund raising and awarded grants within the community.
“Newer seniors devote their time as volunteers, and are more comfortable in partaking of the programs as their own care needs change,” notes Peter Eder, an At Home In Darien board member, and long-time AARP CT volunteer. “An important on-going effort is to work not only with our town officials – some of whom are members themselves -, but also with organizations like AARP on the state and national level, to enhance and harmonize relevant programs and services. It is a grass roots program that really strengthens and binds a community together.”
(Thank you to Jeff Yates, Communications Manager at Fairfeld County Community Foundation for contributing to this article)
Related: Villages Helping Older People Age in Place
Find a Local Aging in Place Program Near You
To find a program near you:
Village to Village Network: www.vtvnetwork.org
Contact your local senior center. For a directory of senior centers, click here.
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
For more information about the Fairfield County Community Foundation, visit www.fccfoundation.org.