Solo Agers Can Live Well in a Supportive Community

By:
Stephanie Chong

According to this New York Times article close to one million older adults are without a spouse, partner, children or siblings. Traditionally families take on some type of caregiving role for their loved ones, with care ranging from grocery shopping, to bill paying, to full-time personal care, and everything in between. Kinless older adults – or solo agers - have to rely on other support to help with these things as they age.

The number of solo agers is expected to grow, with Black women and people with less wealth experiencing a higher rate of kinlessness. When compared to older adults with family support, kinless older adults tend to receive less caregiving support, have increased mortality, and are more likely to live in a nursing home. Fortunately for DC seniors, there are a lot of resources available to create a supportive community.

  • DC Villages - There are 13 Villages in DC that provide neighbor-to-neighbor support with practical tasks like transportation, grocery shopping, simple home repair, and more. Village services are provided by vetted and trained volunteers. When a Village member’s needs are beyond the scope of volunteer services, Villages connect their member to local services. Villages offer more than help; Villages provide opportunities to stay engaged in the community and make new friends.
    Most Villages charge a membership fee and offer income-based subsidies. Northwest Neighbors Village serves upper-Northwest DC and you can check out this interactive map to find a Village in your area.
  • Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL) - DACL offers a variety of supports ranging from short-term case management, to health insurance counseling, nutrition support, and more. Each Ward in DC has a Lead Agency designed to help older neighbors find resources in their community. The Ward 3 Lead Agency is Iona Senior Services and The Ward 4 Lead Agency is Terrific, Inc.
  • Transportation - DC offers a number of transportation options to help older adults get around. Visit our website to learn more about public transportation, ride share, and paratransit options.
  • Co-Living - Many older adults find co-living an appealing option that helps to share rising housing costs and offer companionship. Silvernest helps bring together homeowners and renters interested in home sharing.
  • Care Management - Care management offers professional support to help older adults plan for long-term needs and also responds to urgent situations. Care management can be invaluable for people who can afford paying out of pocket for this level of support. To learn more or find care manager near you, visit www.aginglifecare.org

There is a lot you can do to help solo agers. Check in on your older neighbors, share information on the valuable resources available in our community, and support your local Village as a volunteer and/or donor. To learn more about volunteering at Northwest Neighbors Village, visit our website or visit our donation page to make a fully tax-deductible gift. Together we can foster a generous, supportive community where all older adults are valued, age with dignity, and enjoy opportunities for growth and engagement.

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