Intentional Communities

GroupWhen you think of retirement living, what do you picture? Whatever it may be, hold it in your mind for a moment. Have you got it? Good. Now forget about it, because whatever you have envisioned might need to be shaken loose! There may be more options than you are aware of as retirement homes respond to changing needs and interests, bringing excitement and a new world of possibilities for older adults.

One emerging trend is “intentional” or “niche” communities. Even though senior housing options have grown in the past decade, many older adults still don’t like the idea of spending the rest of their lives among people with whom they may have no common interests, writes Jane Gross for the New York Time’s The New Old Age blog, and it’s to this population that the concept of these communities most appeals.

These types of retirement homes are intended to cater to a specific group of seniors, often through a common community theme. While the recession has largely halted new development of these eclectic communities, that may change once the economy picks back up, says Jason Oliva from Senior Housing News.

Andrew J. Carle, from the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University, trains future administrators of senior housing complexes. Carle said there are now about 70 of these niche retirement homes in operation, 50 of which are defined as University Based Retirement Communities, adjacent to campuses and popular with alumni, as well as non-alumni, who enjoy proximity to the intellectual and athletic activities, Gross writes.

One of these communities, is located right here in Toronto. Called PAL Toronto, the retirement home was designed to create and sustain affordable housing and improved living conditions for those in the performing arts professions; some with disabilities or nearing the end of their careers, some still working, others alone or ill, perhaps isolated from the industry they had worked in all their lives.

Times are changing. Just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you have to leave your passion behind! If you still aren’t sure whether or not this will suit your personality, check out the trailer for the movie ‘Quartet’ below. Directed by Dustin Hoffman, the story takes you inside a home for retired musicians, and gives you a glimpse of what living in an intentional community could be like.


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