New Horizons for Senior Housing

Chip and Julie Phillips, featured in Your Turn to Care's story about finding housing for Chip's elderly father, will likely have housing challenges of their own down the road. The reality of 78 million Baby Boomers crossing the "senior" threshold in the next two decades will set off an explosion of housing demands. New ideas are being generated to address their desire for continued independence while still providing access to additional care when necessary.

The established options of assisted living facilities, nursing homes and in-home care will continue to fit the needs of many seniors. However, many highly educated, socially and physically active "Baby Boomers" are beginning to demand more options to the housing landscape.


There is a growing movement toward "senior co-housing" which can be exclusively for the 55+ plus population or can be intergenerational where grandparents welcome their children into the home. The Los Angeles Times reports the "doubling up" trend currently affects about 1 in 5 U.S. households. Builders, such as Lennar Corporation, are developing "Next Gen" designs; a "home within a home" that accommodates two generations of a family. []

Another co-housing option provides each family, couple or single their own home or unit. In this setting, all units share a common space and everyone lives as a part of a community. They not only share a space where they can take a weekly meal together, but they also divide other costs such as landscaping, or having a nurse come in regularly. The advantage is that everyone looks after each other while still maintaining a high level of privacy. Depending on the development, homes can be bought outright or there are some that offer a mix of both owned and rented units.

Continuing Care Retirement Community

Another development in senior housing is the Continuing Care Retirement Community, (CCRC). In these communities, seniors can start in an independent living arrangement but as their needs change, they can move up to Assisted Living. If they need a higher level of care at some point, they can transition to a Skilled Nursing Home, all on the same site.

Often these CCRCs are located adjacent to a golf course or some other common "interest." But Baby Boomers are now starting a new trend by looking for CCRCs that are connected to a College or University campus. These UBRCs, or University Based Retirement Communities, are giving seniors the opportunity to take classes and engage with the younger generation while still living in a community that takes care of their needs.

Prompted by the requirements and desires of an aging Baby Boomer population, "retirement living" is taking on new dimensions. With many more options being created and explored, seniors should be able to find the best possible fit for comfort, safety, healthcare and independence.

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MetLife Foundation The Lippey Family Trust Gladyce L. Foster
California Community Foundation