Aging in community is the answer

“Our country has been sort of fixed on this idea of aging in place, but aging in place is not the answer. Aging in community is the answer,” stated Dr. Richard Lindsay, former Head of the Division of Geriatrics at U.Va and Virginia’s representative to the White House Conference on Aging (pictured right with Monica Appleby and Catherine Rumschlag).

Lindsey added: "Aging in place is generally thought of as staying in one’s own home until the end of life, while aging in community adds the element of closeness within a structured community along with dedication to mutual non-medical social, spiritual “neighborly” support."

The occasion was a celebratory luncheon held at ElderSpirit in Abingdon, at which Robert Blancato, President of the Commonwealth Council on Aging (CCOA), along with Dr. Lindsay and Ninth Congressional District representative to the CCOA Joan Boyd-Short were on hand to present the ElderSpirit Development Corporation with one of the CCOA’s Best Practices Awards. These awards are issued each year for initiatives that benefit seniors.  ElderSpirit tied for second place among programs statewide in this highly competitive process.

Bob Blancato presented the Award to ElderSpirit Development Corporation President Richard Brumleve and EDC Secretary'Treasurer Dene Peterson with these words: "This is a Best Practice for what we should be doing everywhere. It is obvious that ElderSpirit is about trying to build community everywhere you go. And as time goes on, there is something very comforting about that." Peterson echoed his remarks with the hope that the model would be replicated throughout Virginia and throughout the country.

Now, in the 21st century, families are often too far-flung to benefit from the wisdom and experience of seniors, and unable to share the aging process together as they did in previous eras. Committed support among people who do not have family ties is even less common. As contributed by ElderSpirit member Irma Rose Rockwell: "We are all angels with one wing. We can only fly embracing one another" (Luciano De Crescenzo).

Consequently, a small group of creative thinkers came up with the idea for an intentional residential community for people aged 55+ who are able to take care of themselves, a mixed-income community for both home-owners and home-renters, embracing diversity, and committed to mutual support and spiritual growth. The ElderSpirit Development Corporation with its first initiative, ElderSpirit at Trailview in Abingdon, was the first such community to be developed and functional in the United States, although the model is widespread in Europe.

Celebrating along with CCOA presenters, the Board, ElderSpirit residents and a number of neighbors from the larger community outside of ElderSpirit, were long-time supporters State Delegate Joseph P. Johnson and Abingdon Mayor Ed Morgan. In Morgan’s view, ElderSpirit has been a great asset for the Town of Abingdon in terms of the local economy and the members’ deep engagement in supporting local nonprofit organizations as volunteers.

Robert B. Blancato, President of the Commonwealth Council on Aging, is also National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, Executive Director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. He spent 17 years on the House Select committee on Aging, and also served as Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, appointed by President Clinton.

Dr. Richard Lindsay, who serves on the Best Practices Awards Committee of the Commonwealth Council on Aging. He has been head of geriatric medicine at UVA for over two decades and has held many leadership positions in the American Geriatrics Society and on other task forces on aging and health.


This is the official website of ElderSpirit Community at Trailview. We welcome all, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, elderliness, or national origin.


ElderSpirit Community is entirely smoke-free, including the grounds.



Our Community embraces these dimensions of late-life spirituality:
  • Spirituality

  • Service

  • Simple Lifestle & Respect for the Earth

  • Arts & Recreation

  • Health

  • Care during Illness & Dying

  • Mutual Assistence

  • Kindness

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The ElderSpirit Trailview Community in Abingdon includes 29 homes, 13 of which are purchased at market-rate, and 16 of which are rental units.

The single-story, wheelchair accessible homes are clustered around a shared pedestrian green space.  

Common structures include a Spirit Center for contemplative activities as well as other spiritual events, and a Common House, the hub of community life for shared meals, meetings and other gatherings.