When I first researched the aging in place trend, I had started a glossary of terms. NORC was one of them, standing for Natural Occurring Retirement Community. The term was originally applied to specific communities usually built around Jewish community centers that figured out how to keep people independent in their homes by providing necessary support services. The website for the national organization seems to have disappeared into the wilderness. That website link and name is up for sale.
NORC’s differ from the Village movement, which is similar in its mission. ‘Villages’ are generally a specific older urban neighborhoods with a larger number of older residents in a very defined area. The Village movement is still alive and functioning but undergoing challenges such as having to employ geriatric case managers as the ratio of younger to older gets skewed. Co-Housing developments are still out there, but are higher in price then just downsizing.
The charm of the NORC was that when older citizens found themselves outnumbering their younger counterparts, there were some zoning or other rules that could be geared towards sustaining them in the community. Those advantages never became clear. Now due to the number of dead website links I have found, they are either an endangered species, extinct or they have reverted to senior centers. Back to classes and trips. Ho Hum.
Again Next Avenue’s blog has a good perspective: http://www.nextavenue.org/norcs-some-best-retirement-communities-occur-naturally/
Note the links to the newer NORC -SSP’s are also dead, but I will check back later on this. The article still articulates the working philosophy of shared services.
So let’s pretend for a while and go past the slick advertising for upscale senior living communities and imagine what a real naturally occurring community would be like. The senior housing industry worries about who will be the winners and losers (corporate profit wise) in the next five years and whether to add that extra dinning experience to lure more Boomers. The real majority of people fall in the middle income and lower income range and will have to win in their own way. Non profits may be one answer to lead the way to consolidated services. The evolution is really just beginning.
For those who do not live in the walk-able old neighborhoods that have ‘village’ support, new rules will have to apply. It is all about the ability to hire the right help when needed. I do not mean just taking a neighbor’s recommendation for a plumber. Those of us that want to stay in our homes and maintain ourselves through to the end, have to know who we can count on to do more for us when less is what we can do.
Meanwhile, I want to move forward with evolving my original plan for this website. I still have hope of providing a social network where boomers and older seniors can connect to assist them to age in place. The lurking world of internet spam makes safeguards necessary, but at the same time make it harder to to join the conversation. I will be off my blog for two weeks to explore some of my other options to move this website towards that goal of a virtual village.
Until then keep thinking about your own path forward.