Throughout their lives, the Baby Boomer generation has developed a reputation for doing things their own way. As this group continues to transition into their “golden years,” they are broadening the concept of “aging in place” to include a vital connection to community, which can be key to your health and well-being as you get older.
I have previously written about some of the community-based retirement living options that have become popular in recent years, including NORCs and Villages and CCRCs without walls. In addition, people who are approaching retirement (i.e., Baby Boomers) are taking an active role in creating communities where they can connect with others and receive support and resources as needed. Known as “resident-created retirement solutions, or intentional communities,” these retirement living options come in several varieties.
Cohousing occurs when a group of people come together to create a community in which to live and support one another. It can take two to three years for the community to be built and fully occupied, but the prospective residents are actively engaged in the planning process—and get to know each other in the interim. Each resident purchases a unit within the community, which also includes some shared outdoor space, facilities and social activities. People move into this type of community when they are healthy. Then, as noted in this story from AARP, “. . . when they get sick, there will be lots of helping hands, which will supplement, although not replace, professional help if needed.”
Similarly, a pocket neighborhood is an existing community where two or more residents decide to connect and look out for one another’s safety and well-being. This can be as simple as signaling to your pocket neighbors that all is well by leaving an outside light on overnight, and then turning it off during the day.
Shared housing is an arrangement where two or more people live together as roommates. This can be a landlord/tenant situation, where one person owns the property and opens it up to others for rent. There are also a growing number of online resources that help seniors find roommates who want to share a housing unit (apartment, condominium, single-family home, etc.).
Wherever you decide to live in retirement, studies show that having and maintaining a meaningful connection with the community outside of your home can help you enjoy a safer and more fulfilling quality of life.