How to Avoid a Nursing Home

"Aging in place" communities help seniors stay in their own home and avoid assisted living.


Perks for members, currently as old as 99, also include physical fitness evaluations, wellness seminars, classes at local fitness clubs, and vetting and discounts for local services. Beacon Hill, which is six years old, has been contacted by about 100 other communities interested in starting similar programs. It publishes a manual about how to start an aging-in-place nonprofit group.

Social interaction. Growing old in your own home can be very lonely if you don't have family and friends nearby. "One of the most important things these organizations do is provide social contact that helps members avoid isolation," says Rob Waldman, president of the nonprofit Center for Aging in Place Support. "These aging-in-place communities provide a great opportunity to make and meet new friends."

Nancy McCarthy, 65, goes to restaurants, university lectures, and a movie and book discussion group that she formed with other members of Community Without Walls in Princeton, N.J. The group of about 450 members was founded in 1992. It is organized into chapters of 100 people or fewer who meet at least once a month and also get together in smaller groups for activities. Annual dues are $30 or less.

"It's almost an investment in making your growing-older process as meaningful as possible," says McCarthy, who has been a member for five years. "A lot of us who live here don't necessarily want to move to Florida or South Carolina or into a retirement home as we grow older. We want to stay in our own homes and keep involved and active."