The New River Valley Aging in Place Leadership Team is a regional, multi-disciplinary group that formed out of the work of the Livability Initiative in 2011. With the staggering rise in the number of citizens ages 65 and older and the statistic that 90% of older adults want and expect to ‘age in place,’ the Leadership Team acknowledged that the need for older adults to successfully age in their homes and communities was a critical focus.
Recently, the Aging in Place Leadership Team facilitated two classes through the Lifelong Learning Institute on the subject of aging in place. After noticing a gap in existing training materials on the topic, the Leadership Team created a comprehensive and interactive Aging in Place Workbook that provides detailed user-friendly information across five topical areas: 1) housing, 2) transportation, 3) health and wellness, 4) personal finance, and 5) connection and growth. Detailed checklists were included with each chapter to help participants assess how prepared they are to age in place over time.
The structure of the class was broken into the five topical areas of the Workbook. A facilitator provided a five-minute overview of the topic and then directed the class to complete the assessment checklist for that section. After a few minutes of independent work, the class was encouraged to talk in small groups about their thoughts and observations. The class concluded with a full-group summary of the experience and allowed for questions, ah-ha moments, and further discussion.
Between the two classes, 40 participants attended, 70% women and 30% men, with an average age of 74. Feedback from each class showed that the Housing and Health & Wellness sections were the most useful for participants and many felt that the workbook was thought-provoking and easy to use.
With each class, the feedback provided has further shaped the content of the workbook and execution of the class. The Leadership Team will be presenting a third Aging in Place class in the Town of Floyd at the end of May, with hopes to train other facilitators to host the class in each locality in the region.