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About the Culture Change in Aging Network of Western North Carolina

ElderSpiritIn the summer of 2010, a conference was held at Warren Wilson College on “Aging and the Environment.”  One of the key speakers was Bill Thomas, (internationally-known physician, author and aging-advocate).  His talk, centered on creating a new, human-scale, life-affirming culture for aging and long-term care environments sparked a movement in Buncombe County and a dynamic group of innovators came together in a whole new way. 

This group had been named the Culture Change in Aging Network of Buncombe County (CCAN for short). In 2016, the group became regional and was renamed the Culture Change in Aging Network of Western North Carolina. Originally facilitated by Buncombe County Aging Plan Coordinator, Linda Kendall-Fields, the group created the following mission statement, based on the work of national and international culture change advocacy groups:ElderSpirit2

“The Culture Change in Aging Network of (CCAN) is dedicated to educating the community about fundamental changes in values and practices to create a culture of aging that is life-affirming, satisfying, humane and meaningful.

The Network advocates for culture change across the spectrum of services within a variety of living environments.

To advance these goals, CCAN supports education in the community and collaboration with service providers in order to empower individuals and advance public policy changes and practices.”

ElderSpirit3An initial conference, held at the Reuter Center on the UNC-Asheville campus, drew over 90 people eager to explore alternatives to the array of housing and long term care options currently available in later life.   The conference, entitled “Envisioning Home:  Creating New Models of Home and Community in Later Life” was well received and left participants wanting more information.

This summer, three additional workshops were made available to network members and the general public, each exploring community and interdependence.  Topics included:  1) Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, (or NORCs) which are neighborhoods that can be transformed in livable, resilient communities to support aging in place; 2) Cohousing Intentional Communities, featuring local examples; and, 3) Shared housing or Collaborative Homes, as promising human scale places for older adults to age in place within their local communities.

Where is CCAN focusing its efforts in 2014?  The group will continue to educate and engage the public and as stated in the 2013-17 Buncombe County Aging Plan, the group will facilitate ways to “expand housing and community options for older adults.”

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