According to an AARP study, only a fifth of Baby Boomers plan to move to a new geographic area when they retire. That means that the majority of retirees are planning to age in their current community. This trend has created “naturally occurring retirement communities” – NORCs. As these residents age in place, they will require special services in housing, transportation, health, accessibility, and safety.
For community associations, long-term residents can be a benefit to the neighborhood. They are often the owners most invested in their homes, as it is likely to be their final home. Retirees are often the first residents to volunteer for the board or other committees, and they have the time and interest to organize social and charity events that bring the neighbors together.
Some retirees have financial troubles, and this trend is likely to grow, as longer lifespans and increasing medical costs diminish their retirement savings. Health problems can translate into mobility problems, including difficulty in escaping from emergencies and moving around in their homes. Depression and dementia cause safety problems, and owners who are hoarding can cause difficulties for their neighbors.
Aging in place also brings new considerations to a community. For example, an association with a larger elderly population may have to designate more handicapped parking and perhaps retrofit areas for ADA accessibility. One condominium association that was recently updating their gym facilities had a few retirees on the renovation committee. They were able to lobby for treadmills and stationary bikes that were easier to mount and dismount, and extra handrails that helped with stability.
Lieberman Management Services is on the forefront of aging in place planning. Margaret Shamberger, Regional Director, is a member of the Age Friendly Chicago Commission. In partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago, they are developing tools that will help property managers provide assistance to senior residents; thereby allowing them to age in place.
The commission has also begun a program in residential high-rises entitled Vertically Integrated Villages (VIV). This program brings some of the services currently offered by Chicago’s senior centers to residents in these high-rise buildings. While still in the infancy stage, the goal is to encourage senior participation and reduce isolation.
For more information about how to plan for your elderly population, you can always contact your LMS property manager.