Preparation for the Rest of Our Lives

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.

~ African Proverb


Aging in Place

I have often said that to create a positive experience of aging, it’s wise to make the future a part of one’s current philosophy. A beautiful example is Anderson Valley Village in Mendocino County. In a newspaper piece by Carole Brodsky, she describes in detail how a community came together in the spirit of the village movement to support aging in place.

The Anderson Valley Village was founded following a book group reading of “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by Atul Gawande. A frank assessment of aging wisely, the book provided inspiration for one of Mendocino County’s newest and most unique nonprofit organizations. “We were so inspired by the book we encouraged others to read it,” says Lauren Keating, Village board member. With more than 250 Villages nationwide, the group of Anderson Valley residents began meeting monthly several years ago to discuss and problem-solve the complexities of aging, particularly in a rural setting. The Village’s seed concept was to create an organization that helps people age in place.

Gawande’s book was the conceptual fulcrum that helped launch the Anderson Valley Village which is a community effort of mutual support. The elements are wonderfully outlined in Brodsky’s article, and I wish to reproduce them sequentially here. This is what’s possible when the circumstances align just right, which is challenging at best, but worth the effort for these individuals.

The Anatomy of a Village

Step 1

Come Together / Form a Group / Create an Identity

“We formed a group to discuss the book, which we called, ‘Preparation for the Rest of Our Lives,'” says Keating. “We brainstormed topics, modeling ourselves after the Village concept, which emphasizes the benefits of staying connected and learning together, as a group.”

Step 2

Get Funding / Get Organized / Create a 501c / Write a member handbook

“We received a planning grant from the Community Foundation and used the funds to get organized. We wrote by-laws, became a 501(c)(3), wrote a member handbook.”

Step 3

Hire Coordinator

“In 2019, the all-volunteer group hired Anica Williams to be the Village’s paid coordinator and accepted membership dues. Today, there are 63 paying members, whose dues provide the income to pay William’s salary and ancillary costs.”

Step 4

Parce out and identify Skill sets / Vet service providers / solicit volunteer bank

“Anica curates two lists- the first consisting of volunteer caregivers, drivers, and errand runners, and the second a list of people for hire- folks who do yard work, house cleaning, and other tasks. Everyone on the list is vetted by our Board.”

Step 5

Focus on Living (not death and decline) / Positive Philosophy as a scaffolding for services

Community > dis-ability

“Some folks say, ‘I don’t need this yet,’ because they’re currently independent. We encourage connecting with our community now by joining the group.”


This is just one example of individuals taking charge of their lives, remaining home by choice, and creating a mutually supportive community aging in place. In the gerontological literature, this exemplifies two grand theories of aging; 1) Continuity of Self (avoiding a biographical disruption by staying in the community where they have lived is a strong part of self-identity) 2) Self-Efficacy (and inner knowing and agency that you can influence your own outcomes).


Anderson Valley Village

Anderson Valley Advertiser by Carole Brodsky

Note: The Village Movement is yet another form of aging in place. There will be critics, there always are. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will have the power.”

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