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Denver's Washington Park neighbors on cutting edge of aging in place

As the concept of aging at home grows across the country, individuals, businesses and communities are focused on the many ways people can age comfortably and safely at home. Among the many ideas and tools available is the “village concept” made popular a few years ago by the residents of Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. Considered one of the “big ideas” in the field of “aging in place,” Beacon Hill Village (BHV) was founded in 2001. Since then, BHV has become a leader in influencing and helping communities across the country implement the Village concept.

As a “Village,” the nonprofit organization encourages residents to join together to provide services to neighbors who may need help with everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping, shoveling snow, raking leaves. There is typically an annual membership fee for individuals or households.

Washington Park Cares (WPC), the brainchild of the Washington Park neighborhood residents, Pera Beth and Bill Eichelberger, has grown in just two years to over 120 members and more than 40 volunteers. Based on the BHV model, the goal of WPC is to help strengthen communities by giving its members the “practical means and the confidence to live their lives to the fullest in their own homes as they grow older.” WPC offers a range of services that include transportation, in-home assistance, convenience services, gardening and yard work, computer and television assistance. Additionally, members have the opportunity to socialize with others at monthly dinners at area restaurants, Thursday morning walks in Washington Park, a book club, and educational programs. On March 23, for example, WPC sponsored an interactive presentation on "Brain Fitness," facilitated by this Examiner, a Washington Park resident. See the calendar for more details on upcoming events.

WPC has also vetted a number of service providers for more demanding needs, such as home repair, interior cleaning, home health care and others. The individual pays for these types of services, getting the peace of mind that the providers have been selected by the WPC team.

Betsy Kelchner, Executive Director, invites participation to all residents of Washington Park and areas east to Colorado Blvd., west to Broadway, north to Speer, south to Yale. While many current members are over 55, Kelchner encourages younger individuals and families to join as members and/or volunteer to ensure sustainability in neighborhoods. As a still fledgling organization, “WPC is on the cutting edge of viable solutions for aging in place in Denver,” adds Pam Pressel, President of the Board of Directors for WPC. Pressel invites ideas and suggestions from all residents.

WPC annual membership fees are $100 for individuals, $200 for households. The organization also offers assistance to potential members who cannot afford standard membership fees. Contact WPC for more information.

For details on how to establish a neighborhood “Village,” consult VTVNetwork.

WPC is offering a series of free Wellness Clinics during the month of April. No appointment is necessary.

Kathryn also writes as Denver Disability Examiner and Denver Mobility Products ExaminerContact for inquiries and to suggest future story lines.  Select "subscribe" above to receive Kathryn's articles on a regular basis at no charge.

Comments

  • Bill 4 years ago

    I have read about BHV before and it really sounds amazing. I like the spirit of working together. Different people providing care for each other. You don't hear about that everyday. WPC also sounds really cool. Do you know if they supplement care from a home nurse agency or anything like that.

    I work on a blog about in-home care and aging in place and am interested in the the story.

    Keep up the great posts,
    Bill
    www.rightathome.net/seniorhomecare

  • Paige 4 years ago

    Thanks for this great article Kathryn. I live in Wash Park and would be interested in volunteering. Thanks!

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