There are numerous housing models being developed in an effort to meet the requirements of Baby Boomers as they strive to maintain vibrant, active lifestyles. Recognizing that growing older can bring on increased isolation and loneliness as social connections lessen, these housing efforts emphasize independence and social networking and focus on a community approach to independent living.
Senior Cohousing Communities are adult communities developed by people with a common vision. Senior cohousing revolves around custom-built neighborhoods organized by the seniors themselves in order to fit in with their real needs, wants, and aspirations for health, longevity, and quality of life. This is housing built by seniors, not for them. Physically the communities are a combination of small homes, courtyards and open spaces and include a common facility that serves as a social center with a dining room, kitchen, lounge and other recreational facilities. Residents in cohousing communities meet regularly to develop policies and all decisions are made by consensus.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a continuum of care in one location, starting with independent living, progressing to assisted living then nursing care. Residents move from one setting to another as their needs change. Most CCRCs require a one-time entrance fee and then monthly payments, although there are some CCRCs where no entrance fee is required and you pay a monthly rent. The nice thing about a CCRC is that once you buy into the community, you are provided with housing for life. CCRCs offer a range of services – transportation, housekeeping, personal care and health care – along with many social opportunities.
Village network is a relatively new community approach to helping seniors remain in their own homes. A community defined by a specific geographic boundary utilizes a combination of volunteers and staff to coordinate services available to its residents. Residents aged 50 + become “members” of the network and can access these services at an affordable price provided by professionals who’ve been vetted by the group. These services might include medical care, legal assistance, home repairs, transportation, personal shopping, as well as group social outings. This concept is also known as a Virtual Retirement Community. Avenidas Villagein Palo Alto, CA is an example of this type of community. Among the services Avenidas Village provides to San Francisco Bay area seniors are discounts on transportation, free emergency preparedness reviews, medical advocacy and volunteer opportunities. Participating seniors also have access to members only amenities such as a website, social and cultural activities and a directory of fellow members.