We learned from the 2020 census, The Villages, a fast-growing metropolitan area in the United States, a master-planned retirement community in Central Florida. Demographically changing and urbanized in America, this predominantly white, politically conservative castle increases the tendency of retirees to be tempted by warm winters and pastel-hooded houses surrounded by golf carts and pickleball courts.
We are all free to choose how and where we want to live, and older Americans need new housing solutions for a rapidly growing population. But, to be honest, if communities like villages represent the future of old age, please count me and many of us.
“We want to live in a diverse, multi-generational community, stay engaged and contribute to a better future for the next generation.”
Florida’s “friendly city”, in the words of real estate agents, has residential offers in villages 55 and older, and was the subject of the 2020 award-winning film, “Some Kind of Paradise.” Reports indicate that Disney DIS,
Could soon create a similar age-restricted community in Florida. It’s not surprising that the creative minds behind a “fantasyland” for kids are looking at lifestyle development as the next frontier for older adults.
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Concerns about this leisure community
So, what are my concerns about villages and why do others feel like me?
At our Milken Institute, Future of the Future of Aging, we have developed the benefits of different cities and inter-generational lifestyles, which are very different from the villages.
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It is understandable that in their sixth, seventh and eighth decades, many people see village-type development as a logical next step in their lives. These places may seem like the safest choice in a youth-centric America that stigmatizes old age, pushes regular older people, and sees them as aging as defined by dependence and decline. In the last one year alone, the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic has highlighted the attitudes of the elderly, such as “OK, boomer”, “boomer remover” and similar memes have spread on social media.
Then why Will not Older adults want to live in a community where they can feel comfortable and be acceptable-focusing on their needs and desires in an age-limited space?
From the beginning, intelligent developers have recognized the opportunity to provide antidotes to the challenges of aging.
Dale Webb, of Sun City fame, admits that instead of snatching their “golden years” in the cold of the North, older adults can be trusted to take root, leave empty homes, and live in communities and leisure lives of similar people. A radio jingle promoting this new model of life sang: “Let leisure not let you down! Stay happy in Sun City, it is a paradise city.
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But a city devoid of children’s words and races and styles Really A paradise?
Not to mention the growing number of older adults, acknowledging that living with neighbors of all ages and walks of life is understandable. They understand that intergenerational connections are valuable not only to them but also to their community and country.
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They acknowledge that retreating to the age-old corner will not defeat ageism, only through engagement, cooperation and dialogue across age, race and class divisions. They believe there is more to being gray than playing.
An alternative to multi-generational leisure living
Fortunately, options exist, and new models are expanding; The headline of a recent New York Times story, “Don’t miss out on intergenerational housing,” features several things.
Let me tell you about a few notable examples.
A rapidly growing number of university-based leisure communities and co-housing systems are improving the lives of all residents. In LaSalle Village, on Newton’s LaSalle University campus, for example, older residents promise to study with their teenagers and students in their 20s. Arizona State University’s new Mirabella community promotes physical, mental, spiritual, social and professional well-being, calling it “a leisure experience definitely different from any other.”
The study confirms that the inter-congenital connection and sense of purpose associated with this type of lifestyle and education system maintains health, a positive attitude and well-being. The benefits for both the brain and the body are increasingly obvious.
College cities across America provide facilities for residents of all ages. From big cities like Boston; Madison, Weiss .; And in small places like Austin, Texas, Ann Arbor, Mitch; Iowa City, Iowa; And Boulder, Colo, young and retired share space and learning opportunities.
Off-campus, the Modern Elder Academy, launched by Chip Conley (a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging), is taking lessons from its Baja California pilot as it plans a network of reincarnation communities, whose purpose is to build intergenerational bonds. The first will be at Santa Fe, NM
The success of the villages is clear
Opportunities to use both experience and empathy for retirees are emerging in places like Portland, Ore Bridge Meadows, which provide affordable living for older adults and for foster families designed for interaction, connection and mutual support.
For those who are committed to sustainable living, Echo Village in Ithaca, NY provides a multi-generational platform for employment and learning. In Santa Clara, California, she plans agriculture, mixed-use housing and a work farm that enriches the lives of her elderly residents through intergenerational gardening activities and access to healthy organic food and produce.
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Clearly, villagers must find meaning and joy in their lives. But many of us feel the need even more – to share our thirst for new ways of learning, working, serving and transforming our next years. We want to live in a diverse, multi-generational community, stay engaged and contribute to a better future for the next generation.
Read: I want to retire to a college town with a warm climate and low taxes – where do I go?
The census and village success make this clear: there are new lifestyle options for older Americans. For those of us who want something different from age-restricted, unauthorized space, but now it’s time for community leaders and business innovators to design, develop, expand and scale models that enable us to achieve our goals.
Paul Irving, Next Avenue Influencer in Aging, Center for the Future of Aging at the Milken Institute, Chairman of Encore.org and Distinguished Scholar at the Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California.
Reprinted by permission from this article NextAvenue.org, © 2021 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.
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