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Promoting Aging In Place Through Community Networks

1 January 2014


As the adult population continues to increase exponentially to a projected 15% of the population of Washington County by 2030, it is estimated that there will be almost 400,000 people over the age of 50 years old within the region (Village Without Walls, 2013). Furthermore, the increased cost of living, the added expense of moving to assisted living, and the lack of retirement security contribute significantly to the greater demands for services. The “Village” movement was created to address the need for older adults to receive cost-effective supportive services through community organizations and volunteer networks in order for them to age successfully in place. More than 110 Villages currently exist within the United States and nearly 150 more are in development (Villages NW, 2013). Village Without Walls is a recently established grassroots Village stemming from a “hub and spoke” model, which is intending to provide services and social networking to older adults and individuals with disabilities within Washington County, Oregon.

In partnership with Village Without Walls, Pacific University’s School of Occupational Therapy (OT) is helping to further the mission and development of Villages within the Portland metropolitan area. Given the recent involvement with the Villages movement, the OT students are expanding the relationship established in the previous year (i.e., independent study design) with the implementation of an Innovative Practice Project. The purpose of this project is to increase awareness of and involvement in the Village services by organizing an information session for Pacific University stakeholders, providing multiple educational seminars, and promoting Village services at various community events.

Project goals target the partnership created between Village Without Walls and Pacific University to increase the diversity of services being offered to the Village, specifically in increasing the number of committee members and providing educational opportunities for the students in the College of Health Professions. Other goals relate to the educational seminars being provided to the community, with the focus of these goals on the outcomes of the satisfaction survey and post-seminar quiz.

With the focus of the seminars on the effects of aging and home modifications in maintaining safety and independence given these potential changes, teaching methods emphasize an interactive component of evaluating a home replica and completing a home safety assessment checklist. Other components of the project, such as the health fair, are primarily aimed to promote the development of Villages and further educate individuals on the role and benefit of occupational therapy in the community and in collaboration with Village services.


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