The beginnings of MAPP go back to a 2010 conversation between two neighbors concerning the aging process. They discussed how to live vital and healthy lives, how to cope with the inevitable changes that make daily life more difficult, and how to stay in their homes as long as possible. They had perceived decisions made by relatives and friends, a few of which seemed good and some not. Their concern was to understand what choices would enhance one’s life. They understood that people who live in close-knit communities have easier and more natural human connections to engage in social activities and assist through difficult times.
The two friends drew their husbands into the discussion and decided to involve additional like-minded people. They would try to build a neighborhood organization within the Meadowmont community. Thus a steering committee consisting of a group of neighbors with a common vision was formed, establishing Meadowmont Aging in Place Program (MAPP).
The first step in developing social cohesion through a sense of community was the launch of the Port-a-Pub, which is a monthly informal gathering at a member’s home. After the membership grew, members organized various activities, both physical and social. These included hiking, biking, walking, mah jongg, lunch groups, and going to movies. An educational program was also created for members as well as for the public about the evolving opportunities and resources for aging in place. Participation in these activities enabled members to get to know, trust, and respect each other, which developed a natural warmth and willingness to offer assistance when the need arose.
A critical goal of MAPP was to create the kind of atmosphere in which members would feel comfortable to ask for help. After three years of parties, walks in the neighborhood, and movies, friendships became strong enough for a member to break the ice and ask for aid following a stroke. Then members who had surgery, significant illness, and death of a loved one asked for assistance. Meals were delivered, visits made to homes and hospitals, letters of encouragement written, and walks were taken with those who requested them.
Soon after the establishment of MAPP, communication within the organization was enhanced by the establishment of MAPP Musings, an electronic newsletter, and the creation of the MAPP website.
MAPP continues to evolve, but always stays true to its founders’ goal of friends helping friends to age in place.