The Here and Now: Naturally Occurring LIVING Communities (NOLC’s)

Did you ever go to a 3-D Movie Theatre? You walk in, sit down – everything looks the same…until you put the 3-D glasses on – and then things begin to change. That is what we, at AgePlan, are asking you to do now. Take a walk around your community.   With a specific lens on aging services,  programs and resources – look at things as they are. You will see from both the personal and perspective focus – there are problems, gaps in services and a fragmented perspective on what is available to help individuals stay independently in their community. We are well aware of the national initiatives that promote: “Aging in the Community”.  The frameworks of: “Aging in Place”, “Livable Communities” and “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC’s)” and they should be recognized and applauded for their efforts. However, each of these platforms , although notable, have a similarity in gaps of service. For one, each relies heavily upon an  “agency response”. Secondly, in many of the existing paradigms of today if the person or family has: “a thin wallet”  that will block access to their participation. And third, for other current solutions, there is a heavy lift in modifying infrastructure, thereby, making the solutions they propose to be unrealistic and unattainable. We at AgePlan have a very simple solution that can be implemented immediately – and available to everyone. Put your 3-D glasses on – and now take a look at what is available in your:  Naturally Occurring LIVING Community (NOLC). You will immediately begin to see services, programs, resources and opportunities that were hidden and that you never saw before!

The beginning of the  Naturally Occurring LIVING Community (NOLC):

Approximately, seven years ago we were hired as consultants by a state in western part of the country. This state, which will go unnamed, had discharged, into the community, over 700 people in the 1970’s from Institutions providing services to persons with a developmental disability. Fast forward, to 2009, a few of these individuals were claiming (through their attorneys) – they had been ‘abandoned by the state’. Obviously, this is not the news a state system wants to hear. The last thing a state operated system wants to hear is that they are the focus of a Class-Action lawsuit. Immediately, the state hired a Private Investigator  to located these individuals. The Private Investigator located about 533 of these individuals who were discharged. Some individuals were not accounted for due to moving out of state, changing of their name or death. The AgePlan Consulting Team, lead by Roger Monthie, AgePlan President/COO, was hired to assemble a Team of Trained Clinicians to assess the individuals who were located. At the end of the assessment process, a year long process,  a detailed report was presented. And this is what we found: “the individuals who did not receive formal services from organizations were actually doing better than the individuals who did receive ‘formal agency based services’…because the individuals who did not receive ‘formal services’ had embedded themselves in their own communities and neighborhoods”.

What a shocking finding for all of us – both the state agency that hired us and we as the Consultants! It was the birth of the paradigm that we at AgePlan witnessed and then termed:  The Naturally Occurring LIVING Community (NOLC). What does NOLC really mean? It means that if our intent, as a society, is to help people stay and thrive were they are – we need to place value on the resources, services, programs and opportunities that are naturally found and embedded in our communities.

What are these natural resources, services, programs and opportunities – and how do they look? Stay tuned…as we walk with you, as guides, to help you explore your own: Naturally Occurring LIVING Community (NOLC).

Regards,

L.T. Force, Ph.D. , Gerontologist / Founder & CEO / AgePlan, Inc.