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Aging in Place Housing Alternatives for Older Residents

Citizens over the age of 65 comprise nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population—just under 40 million seniors. By 2030, it is estimated that 72 million Americans will be over the age of 65, nearly doubling those numbers. Where this volume of seniors will live and how, is a question facing not only the individual seniors but also many boards and property managers, who are seeing an increased population of older residents. It is to be expected that this group will dramatically change the face of aging and retirement.

Newer Trends for Older Residents

Ellen Hirsch de Haan, of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff in Clearwater, is an attorney, educator and author who has written a book on aging in place for the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and teaches courses to property managers. She has noted several new trends in the pre-boomer generation. “Pre-boomers were looking for destination retirement,” de Haan explains. “They were looking for a lifestyle. Boomers are looking for location: they want the pool, the activities, and the gym.”

Pre-boomer retirement centers were first successfully developed in Arizona and California by multifamily developer Del Webb in the early 1960s. Since then they have expanded to every state, with a variety of options available. Although for many, the term 'retirement center' conjures up the image of a white-walled, isolating institution, with not much more than a Tuesday night Bingo to participate in, there is a new wave of brighter, more modern living situations available. With a longer-living, more physically and socially active retiree population, communities are changing to properly accommodate this emerging trend.

One Community's History

Because of its climate and abundant resources, Florida was viewed as another perfect retirement destination. Sun City Center (SCC) opened its doors in 1962 along the proposed I-75 corridor between Sarasota and Tampa. As one of the first retirement centers in Florida, Sun City Center was billed as an active adult community with the suggestion that those that planned well could retire early and enjoy life in a resort atmosphere. Most businesses and recreation facilities were available by golf cart. As the area has grown and developed, it is still possible to travel many places besides the golf course on those handy carts.

Besides offering homes or single story condos, SCC developers added a high rise (Sun Towers) with various size apartment homes and amenities, such as meals in a common dining room and housekeeping. A skilled nursing center was added nearby.

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