By Sarah Pastore

Executive Director, Village in the Village

Paying it Forward Pays Off With ViV

What one thing does every human on the planet have in common? In today’s polarizing times, it can be difficult to think of anything, but if you answered, “We’re all aging,” you’d be correct!

May is national Older Americans Month —notable in Corrales since 30 percent of our residents are 65 and older. The Administration for Community Living leads this observance, choosing a different theme each year. The 2022 theme is “Aging My Way” and focuses on aging in place —how seniors can stay in their homes, plan for their futures and remain involved in their communities.

The White House Proclamation for Older Americans Month begins with this statement from President Joe Biden: “During Older Americans Month, we honor our nation’s seniors and the tremendous impact they have made in helping build a more perfect Union. Older Americans contribute their time and wisdom to make our communities stronger, more informed, and better connected. They are our loved ones, friends, mentors, essential workers, volunteers and neighbors.

“We celebrate their achievements and recommit to providing our elders with the support and services they need to thrive and age with dignity.”

Since 2014, Village in the Village (ViV) has helped senior Corraleños do this very thing: achieve their goals in aging well. This is something that looks different for everyone; after all, we’re all doing it at different rates, under different circumstances, and with different beliefs and resources. ViV member Vicki Dow shared her unique perspective on aging: “I hope to live my best life in the home I’ve built, with friends around me. My greatest fear is becoming isolated because of hearing loss, vision loss, or an illness.”

When asked how ViV fits into her plans to age at home, she said “ViV gives me hope that I will have help in transitioning more gradually than previously possible. It gives me hope that should I be left alone, there will be a safety net.”

Another member, Barry Abel, said aging his way means taking things at his own pace, making informed decisions about his health and activities, and living independently in his own house as long as he’s physically and mentally up to continuing to do so.

Since ViV’s inception, members Laura Smith and Chuck Elliott were incredibly active in the organization. Most notably, Laura was a Members & Volunteers Committee co-chair, Chuck served as president, and they both contributed a great deal on the board of directors.

They valued their contributions to the community and considered it a way to “pay it forward” to a time when they’d need services themselves. This year, they became full members of ViV and have experienced the benefits of their previous volunteerism. Laura commented, “The transition from supporting members to full members was easy because we’re able to ask for help from current friends and neighbors. It’s no problem to ask for a ride or a bit of help around the house when you know that you’ve been an active volunteer in the past. ViV has become a wonderful support when our lives were upended by a curveball.”

Regardless of your age, I encourage you to think about what it means to you to “age your way.” Whatever successful aging means to you; does the way you live now help you to accomplish the outcomes you desire in the future?

Aging can come with many surprises, but by making plans and building relationships before they’re needed, we can face unexpected challenges with greater confidence and support. For more information about how ViV helps Corrales residents age well, visit our website at http://www.villageinthevillage.org or call (505) 274-6206.

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