3/11/2011 2:57 PM ET|
3 new retirement living options
The big and restless baby boom generation is reshaping living arrangements as its members begin to step into retirement. Is one of these approaches right for you?
They helped change the political landscape and American culture, and it's clear baby boomers will change what life in retirement will look like. And with their sheer numbers -- 78 million -- they may also shift the landscape of where retirees live, too.
The first explosion of new retirement community options over the last two decades included some 1,900 continuing-care retirement communities (CCRC). But experts say that as the first group of boomers reaches retirement age this year, expect to see new retirement living options -- and twists on old options that better cater to boomer desires to stay educated, have easy access to care and remain independent.
Already, there's growing evidence of this trend. Case in point: The first four senior co-housing communities, a type of collaborative housing for older Americans (akin to a New York City-style co-op, but with homes instead of apartments) have been built in the U.S. in the last few years, and two more are in development, says Craig Ragland, the executive director of the Cohousing Association of the United States.
Furthermore, 45 to 50 university-based retirement communities -- essentially continuing-care facilities linked to, and sometimes adjacent to, college campuses -- are in the planning or development stage, joining the 25 or so that have opened in the last decade, according to Andrew Carle, the founding director of the senior housing administration program at George Mason University.
And just in the last five to 10 years, about 10 continuing-care facilities have begun to offer a program that brings CCRC-style services into the homes of older people. And lately, there has been a "strong interest from CCRCs" around the country to offer such programs, too, says Steve Maag, the director for assisted living and continuing care at the American Association of Homes & Services for the Aging.
These options align with research on boomers. More than a quarter of affluent baby boomers plan to pursue continuing education when they retire, according to a recent Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly survey. More than 80% of people older than 45 want to stay in their homes even if they need assistance from professionals or even just from other people like them, according to an AARP study.
Here are three developments in retirement living poised for growth now:
When you think of co-housing, you probably think of a group of people sharing one house, a la the Golden Girls. But the new senior co-housing communities are clusters of about 20 to 60 single-family houses gathered near a central home or building. Each person owns a home, but they are also contractually obligated to pay monthly dues for a house all members share -- at which the entire community may have, say, weekly meals together -- as well as the common land and shared amenities or services, like landscaping or even a nurse or caregiver who comes regularly. Community members meet, usually monthly, to decide how to spend the monthly dues.
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