Community-Based Models for Aging in Place

Shannah Koss, Koss on Care
Beth Almeida, AIR

The “graying of America” calls for new solutions to enable older Americans to age in place in their communities of choice. Aging services offered at the local, state, and federal levels encompass a range of programs—like transportation, meal assistance, and home modifications—to help older people stay in their communities.  Ideally, the service programs are user-friendly and comprehensive; instead, they are frequently a complicated maze characterized by significant gaps in the types of services offered and significant constraints on eligibility. Moreover, program funding does not come close to keeping pace with the rapid growth of the 65 and older population.

Against this backdrop, many community grassroots initiatives have emerged, as local leaders and older adults search for options that are not readily available. This issue brief reviews three community-based models—cohousing, villages, and livable communities—that are filling critical gaps in services directed at those who want to age in place. The brief discusses the benefits and challenges of each model and suggests pathways for their expansion and integration to advance and sustain policies and programs for aging in place.

The companion brief, All Together Now: Integrating Health and Community Supports for Older Adults, provides some context for the emergence of community models to support aging in place.