OKC is home to over 370,000 residents that are 55+, and VillagesOKC is bringing them together to redefine life, remain active and hold onto independence. But VillagesOKC is a plan – not a place.

“Villages is a community of trusted individuals, organizations and professionals who are dedicated to connecting people with information and resources needed in order to age with vitality and purpose,” says Marilyn Olson, the group’s executive director. “Although we connect virtually through our website, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, we have monthly meet-ups in all kinds of locations. So we are meeting new friends and being challenged by people we didn’t previously know.”

The network involves a web of local resources to help seniors age well at home, and also to help their families. And Villages works with other senior organizations to create as many aging support services as possible.

Villages offers members a plethora of opportunities, including workshops to navigate Medicare, grief share/support, community events, transportation assistance, volunteer opportunities, day trips and exercise programs.

“Our main strategy is to learn, plan and serve,” says Olson. “We can grow our brains at any age. Our technology workshops are understandable workshops that go slowly and allow people to not be intimidated. And we don’t want to just get an escape plan and sit. We need to keep planning ahead for the bumps in the road.

“When we serve, we feel better, and that helps combat loneliness. The goal is to help people connect at the point of their interests or needs, and in the process, find friends.”

Members pay dues, and may choose from an ongoing, regular calendar of events and opportunities. And Villages allows members to engage with others and grow in a safe environment, because all members must pass a background check.

“We’re out to share so that others will have confidence,” says Olson. “We have a huge veterans initiative. And we have connections with churches. There’s strength in numbers, and we want to fill the gaps for seniors.”

Members of Villages hail from Guthrie, Norman, Choctaw, El Reno and other cities around the region. The group includes members who are 101, and members in their 40s who asked to join. 

Overall, says Olson, “we are changing the conversation about aging.” 


The Villages’ program that’s been around the longest, The GIFT – Gathering Information For Transitions – is a four-week interactive workshop, with 90 minute sessions, that guides participants through time-saving techniques which provide rapid access to key information. 

Facilitators lead participants through discussions about life transitions that range from downsizing, refinancing a home, moving a parent into one’s home or general legal issues. 

Each participant ends up with a notebook in which they’ve placed their personal information and decisions, so that they can plan ahead. Participants meet attorneys, real estate agents, funeral directors, estate sale pros and other trusted professionals, not as salespeople, but as new friends who answer questions.

Main photo courtesy VillagesOKC

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