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Do Baby Boomers need new models for senior housing -- or just more information?

Posted: January 22, 2013

Spent a lovely weekend with a group of families—our annual MLK retreat.  Everyone was very interested in what kind of senior housing could make sense for their aging parents—and found JCHE’s statistics and impact very compelling in that regard.  The logic of the model works, when discussing it for someone else (even someone as dear as one’s parent).

But when the conversation turned to what WE will want as we age, there was much more skepticism and reluctance to embrace the supportive senior housing model.  Some of it, for sure, is the remoteness of that reality—no one I was with is thinking about retirement as anything but an abstract notion.  But everyone was pretty clear that our generation would require new models, even as they acknowledged the fact that the core issues are community, companionship and efficiency of service delivery.

So I suggested that our group of friends purchase an entire apartment building, each capture one unit, and carve out some common areas—and pool resources for bringing in supports as needed.  This seemed to almost everyone as a very cool idea.  They loved the notion of our existing community coming together to live our senior years together.

Is this very different than JCHE housing?  Not really, except that one’s neighbors here may be people that become friends after you move in rather than before.  And that the staff has years of experience navigating the systems to bring in the range of services you might need.  And that the buildings are designed with aging in mind—without the physical barriers that can impede mobility.  But somehow the two concepts seemed extraordinarily different.

An interesting question is whether what we’ll need is to take this information and “sell” it, or whether we need to re-think how we organize our communities to meet new needs.

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