Excerpt: “Villages Let Elderly Grow Old at Home”

“Maurine Phinisee, 90, spent about a year in a nursing home. Her time there was “h-e-l-l,” she says, but the nightmare ended when a friend helped her escape Christmas Eve 2008.

“I didn’t belong there,” she says.  All she wanted was to be in the home she has lived in “since 1951 B.C. — before cellphones,” Phinisee says. And that’s where she has lived ever since.

Phinisee, a widow for 40 years, can get around her home on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., but she needs help opening jars and reaching things. She can’t handle even minor repairs around the house or drive places (she gave up her car in 1993).

That’s OK because Phinisee lives in Capitol Hill Village, which began operating three years ago and is the oldest of six such villages in the nation’s capital. She calls the village office, and they send her folks who clean her garden, install a railing, fix her windows, bring her groceries or drive her to the bank.

Ed and Margaret Missiaen, both retired and in their late 60s, are Capitol Hill Village members who volunteer. Margaret has cleaned Phinisee’s garden. Ed has helped fix her windows.

They’re counting on the village to help them when the time comes. “We like the neighborhood, and we want to be able to stay here as long as we can,” Ed says.”

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