15 July 2008

Retirement Living: The Home

The Home. Twice, residents at the Erickson property that I visited last evening referred to the "campus" as "the home." They spoke with humor and one warned, "not everyone likes that word." I was at the Highland Springs campus in North Dallas with a college Practicum (internship) class. A co-teacher was the organizer and I was the tag-along.

Senior, retirement, community. In a society that still prefers "aging in place," a move to a campus like Highland Springs isn't made lightly. Aside from the financial considerations, anyone making the decision is sure to be questioned by family and friends. This is pretty interesting because in my field we define the preference to age in place (meaning at one's home, typically the home of the past 10+ years) as being the aging person's preference. But it is one that is shored up by family opinion and community patterns.

NORC: One of those patterns is the NORC, or naturally occurring retirement community. It's what we commonly describe as an aging neighborhood. Children are grown and gone; the homeowners are retired or nearly so; activity shifts from families' needs to retirees' priorities.

The newer pattern: The planned retirement community (like Erickson and others) hasn't replaced the NORC but it does present retirees with a choice for maintenance-free housing and, usually, facilities that resemble a resort. Boomers may provide the tipping point for retirement housing, though that's likely some time off. The communities that require a "buy in" will interest boomers who can liquidate, most likely by selling a family home. For the boomers who make the move, the retirement community will then become the place for "age in place," which may mean for decades.

One a personal note: I see the retirement community model as a gift I can give my children in that I can age in a resort-like place and they can be spared several stages of decision-making about my ability to live on my own. I don't know the timing yet and Tom Bold does pose a problem because he only imagines living on his own. There is hope: last night I spotted poker tables in the pool hall near the dining room. Perhaps by the time I drag him into such a facility there will also be a salon for old guys and their computer games. Then, we'll be ready to negotiate.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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