Citizens over the age of 65 comprise nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population—just under 40 million seniors. By 2030, it is estimated that 72 million Americans will be over the age of 65, nearly doubling those numbers. Where this volume of seniors will live and how, is a question facing not only the individual seniors but also many boards and property managers, who are seeing an increased population of older residents. It is to be expected that this group will dramatically change the face of aging and retirement.
New Trends for Older Residents
Ellen Hirsch de Haan, of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff in Clearwater, is an attorney, educator and author who has written a book on aging in place for the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and teaches courses to property managers. She has noted several new trends in the pre-boomer generation. “Pre-boomers were looking for destination retirement,” de Haan explains. “They were looking for a lifestyle. Boomers are looking for location: they want the pool, the activities, and the gym.”
Pre-boomer retirement centers were first successfully developed in Arizona and California by Del Webb in the early 1960s. Since then they have expanded to every state, with a variety of options available. Although for many, retirement center conjures up the image of a white-walled, isolating institution, with not much more than a Tuesday night Bingo to participate in, there is a new wave of brighter, more modern living situations available. With a longer-living, more physically and socially active retiree population, communities are changing to properly accommodate it.
Aging in Place
And while there are a number of such retirement communities in New England, including Del Webb’s Great Island community in Plymouth, Massachusetts, services for NORCs are extending beyond the bounds of planned developments to city and town neighborhoods. In Massachusetts, for example, the state FY2012 budget includes $1.6 million for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) programs that “deliver services, develop partnerships, mobilize in-kind resources, and foster the creation of environments that promote aging in place.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council, which had promoted the budget line item, noted when the budget was passed in July, “These programs are a cost-effective way to keep seniors in their homes and out of nursing homes and allow them to age with dignity and in their communities. NORCs also have wide support because they reduce MassHealth expenditures by keeping seniors in their homes and out of more costly facilities.”