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Trending: ‘Organic’ senior communities


NEW YORK – May 17, 2017 – Can senior-living communities be generated organically as boomers age? A look at Morningside Heights, a residential neighborhood in northwest Manhattan near Columbia University, indicates this might be a strategy for aging in place in a more fluid way.

Morningside Heights is what the New York City Department for the Aging calls a naturally occurring retirement community, or "a multiage housing development or neighborhood that was not originally built for seniors but that now is home to a significant number of older persons."

A naturally occurring, or organic, older adult community does not have to follow traditional 55-plus fair housing rules for older adult communities. But to many people living there, the age diversity, even if minor, is a benefit rather than a detraction.

However, communities that identify these organic older adult communities must consider more investment in community spaces and other upgrades to help seniors remain active. In New York, the development process is led by a public-private partnership between the Department for the Aging, the United Hospital Fund, the housing entity, local community service providers and residents.

Curbed describes a new gathering space the development work has brought to residents as resembling "a tech company's meeting space or a dorm's common room." However, the "wraparound handrail built into the walls and nonslip, cushioned rubber flooring signify the interiors as a space designed for older adults."

Architect Matthias Hollwich, who worked on the Morningside project, says integration is key for older adults' health and could influence the way the next generation retires.

"In this country, we create fancy nursing homes, ship people there, and everybody there is old," Hollwich says. "It's segregated. People have lost the connection to their community and have to reinvent their communities, which is hard in a place with so much turnover and new arrivals. This Morningside Heights project shows how the future of aging in place should really happen – more social and more integrated."

Source: "Forget millennials: Seniors are poised to reshape the housing market," Curbed (April 25, 2017)

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