Program offers a good way to ‘age in place’

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As the Flathead County Agency on Aging was formulating its new long-range aging plan earlier this year, agency leaders asked seniors what they feared most about aging. Many older adults concurred that losing their independence and being a burden to their families are two of their biggest worries.

A new resource taking shape in the Flathead Valley aims to alleviate those fears and offer a way for seniors to “age in place.” My Glacier Village, debuting here in September, is part of a nationwide movement known as The Village, which taps volunteers to help older adults stay in their homes longer and develop social outlets.

This is good news for Flathead County, one of the fastest-aging counties in Montana. While this area has many excellent long-term care and assisted-living facilities that are the perfect option for many seniors, AARP studies show the vast majority of seniors want to remain in their own homes as they age. The founders of My Glacier Village believe The Village’s assistance can help make that goal a reality.

It’s a simple model: older adults pay a $30 monthly membership fee that allows access to volunteers who assist them with various tasks in their homes and communities. There will be two categories of help — service-oriented services such as household chores, and opportunities to get out and about to attend church or take in a variety of community activities.

Founders Cindy O’Boyle and Jennifer Prunty say they were drawn to The Village model because they have both experienced firsthand the challenges of making sure their relatives age well and keep their independence. They’re still working out the details of their nonprofit effort. The key to success will be harnessing volunteer manpower and providing it consistently to their clients. Anyone who has worked with nonprofits and volunteers know what a challenge that can be.

My Glacier Village offers an opportunity for volunteers to partake in some very meaningful service to our seniors. And it offers seniors another resource as they step into the golden years. We hope this new nonprofit program will be a proverbial win-win solution for all involved.

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