A New Approach To Seniors' Care

Dorothy Weinstein, member of unique retirement community
As Dorothy Weinstein nears age 95, it's not unreasonable to think it's time she went to a retirement home, especially considering the everyday challenges she faces in her own house where she's lived for 50 years.

Since her house has several flights of stairs, even getting to bed presents an obstacle.

Not wanting to leave her home, but realizing she could use some help, Weinstein has been able to convert her house into a special kind of retirement home, by receiving retirement home services like rides to the grocery store, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

"A lot of people say, 'Well, you're 94, you should consider going into a retirement home,'" says Weinstein. To which she says, "Not so, Charlie."

Weinstein is a member of Beacon Hill Village, a unique retirement community without walls. It's a concept that, at a cost of $500 per year, works for 200 Boston seniors. The cost covers exercise classes, car service, health screenings, financial seminars, a speaker series and even help with computers.

For some of the members, like Alan Nichols, the program is a two-way street. Nichols volunteers to read to members who can't get out, just as he couldn't after his knee surgery. While he was homebound to recover, volunteers brought him everything from medicine to meals.

Nichols says, with a program like Beacon Hill Village, he'll never go to a retirement home.

With their steep hills and cobblestone paths, the old Boston neighborhoods where many seniors live, and where Beacon Hill Village is located, may seem too physically challenging for its clients.

"It's not necessarily an easy place, but it's a fabulous place to retire to," says Judy Willett, Beacon Hill Village's executive director.

For Willet, the point is simple: old age doesn't have to mean old age home. Vibrant seniors, she says, want to remain a part of their community.

"People truly don't want to retire. The new jargon is they want to re-direct their lives," says Willett.

Weinstein doesn't even want to go that far. She says likes her life just the way it is.

"I'm OK. I'm fine," she says while doing her laundry. It's an idea that may well redefine how the next generation of seniors chooses to retire.