Ten years ago when the first Village was established in Boston, I was pleased because I had long thought such a solution was necessary for those of us who were aging yet wished to remain in our own homes. Since then I have developed Macular Degeneration and reluctantly had to stop driving, thus becoming dependent on others in order to get around.
The loss of independence is a disaster that cannot be exaggerated in this car ridden world. A poignant example of this loss was the woman I once found standing on a street corner shading her eyes and looking distraught.
“Oh,” she said, “I am legally blind and haven’t been out of my house in months. I just wanted to come out and see the world.”
Had she been able to join a Village community with all its supportive resources she would have been rescued from her housebound isolation. Suddenly so many things unavailable before would become open to her. Shopping, taking a walk, would become possible as the world becomes wider, safer, less filled with loneliness and anxiety.
I am, of course, talking about all of us who face the dilemma of aging in place and fear great loneliness or to go to the retirement home where all these services are available at the price of becoming at best, marginalized, as in the movie, “Cocoon,” or at the worst live in an atmosphere which only at slight exaggeration resembles a minimum security prison.