Little Steps

Throughout our area, there are many communities in various stages of making things more aging-friendly for their neighbors and themselves. This author has been privileged to be part of some and has witnessed others. For most, the biggest stumbling block is that of scale. So much needs to be done. The challenge cries out for large steps to accomplish grand goals. Unfortunately, this usually means delays while grants are written and applied for, surveys are taken, and various factions develop and deploy.

Back in June of 2009, a gathering at the public library in Norwich, Vermont led to something happening, and happening right away. The group agreed that getting started was the most important thing. It only took the hundred or so people that afternoon to begin making difference in their lives and those of their neighbors.

“. . . we’re just offering a service day every month or two, which we organize by rounding up volunteers to help individuals with ordinary tasks they can no longer do themselves,” explained Judy Pond, one of the board members of Aging in Place, Norwich Vermont.

The effort to build something to help older residents age where they live isn’t just altruistic. Judy put it very simply, “Lots of us are newly retired, still able-bodied and eager to build a strong organization that can help us when we need it.” Working to take care of each other because it serves our own interest to do so is about as good a definition of community as there is.

One thinks of the old Chinese saying, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.” In Norwich, they have taken that first step and many more, doing little things in simple ways and making a big difference.

You can see for yourself what is going on in the Upper Valley by visiting their website at

Aging in Place is not an abstract. It isn’t just someone else’s struggle, either. Whatever one’s current age, we are all in this growing old thing together. It is the one universal absolute. The battle over Aging in Place issues won’t be won in the halls of Congress or the corridors of the state Capital. There is no perfect solution to be implemented from far away.

It is all about little things done gently between neighbors who might even be strangers. We will accomplish the most we can by doing whatever we can as the opportunities arise or are created. Little steps, because Aging in Place doesn’t happen by accident.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.