Home Sweet Home Designing for an Aging Community

Patricia is a 65 year-old woman who is in good physical and mental shape. She exercises daily, sees her physician regularly and is active in the community. She lives alone in an apartment and doesn't even want to consider moving to an assisted living center or nursing home when the time comes that she has difficulty caring for herself. Patricia prefers to age right where she is, in her own home that she loves so much.

Depending on where Patricia lives, she may not have to move; she can simply "age in place," thanks to a relatively recent phenomenon known as a NORC, or "naturally-occurring retirement community." NORCs are apartment buildings, housing complexes or neighborhoods for tenants of all ages that weren't originally designed or built for seniors; however, over time, these buildings have included a significant number-often more than 50 percent-of residents who are aged 60 and older. As these tenants age, NORCs can come to include everything from social activities to supportive healthcare assistance and other services to meet their needs.

"Everyone wants to stay in their home, and we need to be creative, because healthcare can't absorb us," says Stella Henry, R.N. author of the upcoming book, The Expert's Guide on Eldercare: Compassionate Solutions to Difficult Choices (HarperCollins Publishers). "The trick to how you keep someone at home is to foster independence."

The NORC Numbers

According to the United Hospital Fund, close to 400,000 of the approximately 1.25 million seniors in New York City live in a NORC. And with over 76 million Baby Boomers scheduled to retire from the workforce and eyeing their golden years, the number of NORC communities is growing.

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