Village Mentality versus Living in America – What happened to the Village?
Once upon a time, growing older in America meant being surrounded by family members and lifetime friends. However, the concept of living in one place for one’s entire life has changed dramatically in the United States and in many parts of the world.
In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau calculated that the typical American will move 11.7 times during their lifetime. Furthermore, 28 million Americans who were at least 15 years of age moved to another location between 2012-2013, according to FiveThirityEight.com.
Reasons for moving and the demographics of those who moved varied. Finances play a key role in why many people move. For instance, only 7 percent of Americans who had an annual income of $100,000 or more moved whereas 13 percent of people who earned $5,000 or less decided to pull up roots. Ethnicity also played a role in moving with Asian-Americans (13 percent), Hispanics (13 percent) and African-Americans (14 percent) tending to move more often than non-Hispanic whites. Reasons for moving also varied. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of movers were searching for a better home while eight percent were looking for cheaper housing.
Unforeseen Health Issues
While this tendency to pull up stakes and move someplace new may offer an increased hope for financial security, it also can backfire if a major health issue erupts. People who move may find that they no longer have access to a strong network of family and friends to lean on when a health crisis erupts. This lack of support can add additional stress to the individual and his/her family, causing health and other life issues to begin to spiral out of control. For instance, who will take care of young children if a single mother has recently been diagnosed with cancer, is beginning treatments and can’t work on a regular basis? Who will elders rely on when they are suffering physical or mental decline while their contemporaries also face serious health issues and their adult children and other family members have moved far away?
It May Take a Different Form of Village
Because of this growing disconnection, some communities and organizations are trying to create support structures to provide some form type of safety net. One example is the Village to Village Network, a national peer-to-peer network that establishes and manages “villages.” These villages are membership-driven, grass-roots organizations that coordinate access to affordable services for elders, including transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities, and trips. Currently, approximately 180 Villages are operating in metropolitan areas, rural towns and suburban settings across the United States, Australia and the Netherlands.
These forms of social entrepreneurship offer a new way of thinking about the supportive structures offered by villages. With the ever-changing nature of neighborhoods across the United States, these types of social networks may provide much needed support when health crises emerge.
Resources for This Blog:
Chalbi, M. (2015). How Many Times Does the Average Person Move? FiveThirtyEight.com.
Village to Village Network. (2015). Website.