Planning for retirement is a process that has multiple dimensions, beginning of course with taking the right steps to build the financial framework you’ll need to live comfortably. Then there’s the matter of maintaining your health so that you can get the most—physically—out of those leisure years. While these are arguably the two most important steps in the process, there’s a third leg to this stool that tends to require a matching level of thought: where to spend your “golden years.” There are options, of course, from retirement communities to Assisted Living Facilities to Independent Living Residences, but what’s emerging these days is a growing interest in simply staying put. It’s called “aging in place,” and it’s getting a lot of attention these days.
A recent Kiplinger article titled “The Benefits of Aging In Place” reports that “Almost 90% of people over 65 want to live in their home and community as long as possible” and that “80% believe they will stay in their home until they die.” Under this scenario, a growing number of seniors are opting to remain in their family homes, living on their own and eventually living with some form of in-home assistance. Some take this approach for financial reasons, while others simply do not care to give up the familiarity of the home they’ve lived in for so many years. No matter the reason, it’s clearly a concept that appeals to an increasingly large segment of our country’s maturing population.
Local governments and policymakers have begun to embrace this concept as a viable option for seniors, spurred in part by the inevitability of future citizens opting to remain right where they are. The 2010 United States Census reports, for example, that the age 60+ population in our country will reach a level of nearly 74 million households by 2020, an increase fueled by the Baby Boomer wave. With the number of mature adults selecting “aging in place” over geographic relocation, communities are ramping up to change the ways that they serve their constituents. Here’s an example: Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) are in essence a village-based concept in which private agencies, residents, and neighborhood associations band together to provide support to the seniors living in their area. NORCs aggregate services (like transportation, home repair and maintenance, health care and social services) and make them available to residents at relatively low cost. The result is substantial convenience to seniors as they live out their lives in the comfort of the homes and communities they’re most familiar with.
NORCs are but one trending approach. There are others, as defined in a recent article published by Ameriprise Financial titled “Senior living today: 3 new trends.” The article addresses several key movements that are redefining the idea of aging in America.