A recent article on Forbes.com reports a former M.I.T. professor who wanted to retire in his community and stay in his home with his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a solution, Victor King McElheny designed a functioning “virtual retirement community” to postpone institutional care costs and ward off social isolation that most seniors will eventually face.
The virtual retirement community that McElheny dubbed “Cambridge at Home” now includes 200 local households, each paying $1,200 per year. The fee grants access to the community’s shared services such as snow shoveling, transportation to medical appointments and shopping. Citing the need for seniors to have “Medical Citizenship,” McElheny believes they should lead the “Age in Community movement” especially as the 65+ population grows. For example, he suggests taking responsibility to understand and remain current with helpful medical information and innovations, such as in-home electronic vital sign monitors, that allow seniors to remain independent in their homes and less reliant on emergency room visits.
Cost Savings and a Familiar Home Base
At $1,200 per year, this virtual retirement community model is much less expensive than assisted living housing that may cost between $3, 000 and $5,000 a month for all services and may be far from your original home base, the article reports. As McElheny explains, “If you’re anchored in your home, you home is at your back. You’re freer to be a grandparent… and once you’re safe in your home in surroundings that are part of your identity, you can get out of the house to meet new people and have new experiences.”
There are currently seven virtual retirement villages in Massachusetts and more than 100 other communities in the U.S. in what is an interesting and viable solution for the soon-to-be overburdened medical and governmental senior institutional care systems.