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Published on 2/1/2024
Nina Lynch of Rhinebeck at Home
Rhinebeck@Home President Nina Lynch at a lunch event last December. 

Donna Warner has been a sole homeowner since she was 30 years old. At 79, she finds herself contemplating whether to stay in her home of twelve years in Rhinebeck or to relocate to a condominium that requires less physical maintenance and expense. Warner considers herself fortunate to be healthy and fully mobile, but she is realistic that there may come a time when she is not able to navigate the needs of her 1860 house on Beech Street. 

According to the 2022 American Community Survey conducted by the United State Census Bureau, one-third of the residents of Rhinebeck are 65 years of age or older. One of the primary reasons that older adults move from their homes is mobility challenges, particularly in dealing with stairs. Many Rhinebeck homes, especially in the historic village, are multi-story, older homes with bedrooms on the upper floors and laundry facilities in the basement. (Warner had the foresight to design a home renovation that included a bedroom, bathroom and laundry on the ground floor kitchen level in her home.)

Another reason that seniors move from their homes is the physical and financial burden of owning a house. Many retired adults live on a fixed income and when taxes and maintenance expenses increase, the feasibility of staying in their homes comes into question. Despite such considerations, data compiled by AARP in a 2021 Community Preferences Survey show that 77 percent of adults age 50 and older hope to remain in their homes long-term.

Warner cites difficulties in finding reliable help as an issue in the Rhinebeck area. In 2023, she found someone to assist with yard work for a few hours each week, which makes a measurable difference, but in a social and economic climate in which service workers are scarce, Warner turns to an informal network of friends as a resource for recommendations.


Twenty-two years ago, a group of older adults in Boston envisioned an innovative organization that would serve as a peer-to-peer support group for residents committed to aging in place. They formed Beacon Hill Village, a volunteer collective, social club and network for various services. The concept has since expanded across the US.

The Town of Rhinebeck Committee on Aging became aware of the aging-in-place concept in 2007 and began exploring the possibility of forming a group modeled after Boston's ground-breaking organization. A 2011 survey administered by the committee identified more than 70 residents who were interested in learning more about the possibility of such an organization for Rhinebeck. 

Based on that interest, a small group of residents formed Rhinebeck@Home, a not-for-profit organization that mobilizes neighbors to share resources that help anchor older adults in the Rhinebeck community.

Nina Lynch was one of the organizing members and currently serves as President of Rhinebeck@Home, which now has 150 members. “Aging in place is essentially living out your life in the place of your choosing,” said Lynch, who pointed out that it does not necessarily mean remaining in your long-time residence, but more about staying in your community.

Rhinebeck@Home members and volunteers help themselves and others through social events, educational programming and otherwise encouraging members to share resources with one another. Donna Warner, a member, believes that, in many ways, such informal networks of friends are a better solution than more formal networks.

Utilizing a donated office space at The Pavilion at Brookmeade, members serve as an asset for community members in need of assistance and bring awareness to what is offered by area agencies including NY Connects and Dutchess County Office for the Aging. In addition, members advocate for services, including senior transportation, reliable in-home care and housing options not only for aging residents, but in support of workforce rental housing for caregivers, service workers and local hospital staff.

Meanwhile, Warner continues to build a network of reliable helpers to assist at the home she loves while investigating her future living options. She has friends who sold their houses and moved to The Woods or The Gardens, but area condominium prices have risen significantly and many that go on the market are purchased quickly with cash offers. In the current real estate environment, Warner would likely have to sell her house and take a chance on a condominium being available for sale at that time of the closing. “Moving to a condo would very much change my lifestyle,” said Warner, but she acknowledged that that may be a valid option if she wants to remain in Rhinebeck.

Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce  Village to Village Network