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Are Retirement Communes A Wave Of the Future?
Published September 23, 2013
Co-housing is a growing trend among Baby Boomers, as the aging demographic works to delay the need to move into a nursing home.
There are as many as 78 million people between the ages of 49 and 67 in the U.S., and few of them report that they plan to end up in a nursing home unless it becomes unavoidable. While some of the Boomers are planning to move in with their adult children, many more are not choosing that option. And, with one out of every four Boomers childless, relying on adult children simply isn’t an option. For others, the increased likelihood that their adult children live thousands of miles away means that the one-third of the Boomers who are single are without established household companionship. But not, it seems, for long.
The Boomer generation, elder advocates say, is one not entirely adverse to the concept of communes and communal living. This has led to a growth in a number of living options centered around some concept of an arranged community. The variety of communal living can be found in everything from retirement “communes” and co-ops to collective housing and condominiums.
By 2030, it is expected that there will be at least 72 million people 65 and older in the U.S: 1 out of 5 people will be older than 65. Elder care advocates expect that the growing cohort will likely spur a growth of shared-interest communities. Communities could be structured around shared interests like dogs or music, or activities such as gardening or playing cards.
There are already a number of “lifelong learning,” secondary-education-based retirement communities in the U.S., close to five dozen situated near colleges such as Cornell and Dartmouth. And the growing number of 55-plus communities are already available in most major urban areas. Though generations living under one roof was once the norm, the migration across the country for work during the Depression Era, and the move to the suburbs in post World-War II era fractured the practice.
The aging population, combined with the economic downsizing of the past decade, seems to be reversing that trend: The Pew Research Center reports that between 2007 and 2009, there was a 10.5 percent increase in the number of multi-generational households. Meanwhile, not all of those multi-generational households are made of up people related to each other.
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