Currently, California has the largest older adult population in the country, and in Santa Barbara County it represents 15% of the population. A United Way study found that the number one desire of older adults in Santa Barbara is to be able to remain living in their homes and communities.
Santa Barbara Village is part of a national movement of Villages that have sprung up across the country over the last few years. While each Village is different, all are focused on providing a rich array of services and programs to help people, as they age, remain in their homes and in their communities.
With the growth of the aging baby boomer population and the overextension of facilities and medical system, the Village model is a viable alternative.
The Village movement has become a stunning example of how community collaborations can help older Americans improve the quality of their lives, remain in their homes as they age, and save money in the process. And with the government facing enormous deficits for the foreseeable future, Villages also represent a welcome, cost-effective way for citizens to take responsibility for themselves during an era of declining public resources.
According to the Village to Village Network, there are currently (as of September 2015) about 190 Villages operating across the U.S., in Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands, with over 120 additional Villages in development. However, that is literally the tip of a large and growing movement. Candace Baldwin, Director of Strategy for Aging in Community at NCB Capital Impact and the Village to Village Network, says representatives from 600 communities have attended various Village meetings in the past year or so.
To some people, a Village might sound like nothing more than a modern-day replacement for close-knit family support. For most families, today’s lifestyle is very different from years ago when relatives were viable options for support on an everyday basis. And even aging parents with nearby children and grandchildren often must seek broader support networks. With the increasing lifespan of our elders, we are also looking to provide support for the adult children of aging parents.