Seniors in the City

A growing number of retirees want to live out their golden years in the bustling neighborhood of a city. With good public transit, lots of shops and restaurants, and plenty of cultural activities to keep them busy, a city offers seniors many opportunities to maintain their active lifestyles while living at home.

Fortunately, various industries are working to make city-living easier for one of our largest retiree generations in US history.

The housing industry is undeniably a major player. Surveys have found that more and more retirees want to continue living in their homes close to downtowns, mostly because they want to keep working. Towns like Parker, CO are building cohousing communities for seniors in the downtown area, with 40 condominium-style apartments expected to finish next year. These surveys also highlighted an interesting fact, that young working professionals and older adults share common values in living in the city. Small, comfortable apartments near downtown are attractive to the young professionals who work there, and older adults who want to live independently but with accessibility to guidance close by. The Lennar Corporation, one of the biggest builders in the country, began offering multigenerational homes near downtowns in California and Arizona; these are first-floor apartments that young people can use at first, and then be taken over by an older generation, such as their parents.

Another sector stepping in to help is the tech industry. Engineers are making home sensors, alarms, and communication devices more intuitive and easier to operate, providing care remotely while reassuring family members. The concept of “telecare” – a balance between nursing homes and independent living – is starting to emerge in places across the country. In Lafayette, IN, a company called Rest Assured installs sensors and communication devices in the home, and train staff to monitor them from their offices.

Improvement in public transit is also key. Cincinnati, OH and Grand Rapids, MI are among the dozens of US cities building better rail and bus lines for older adults who cannot drive and young professionals commuting to work. The desire for good public transportation is yet another common interest among young and old.

“We already know that in a decade there won’t be enough caregivers to help the number of retirees that need support. We’re finding other ways to interact and provide care. That involves new technology. It also involves new ways to organize ourselves in neighborhoods and new relationships with people to provide care,” says John P. Reinhart, president of a research and marketing group called InnovateLTC in Louisville, KY.

All these efforts demonstrate that businesses, like the housing, technology, and transportation industries, are eager to help retirees avoid having to up and move away from the environment they have grown to love. Because, like Dorothy says, there’s no place like home, even if your home is in the heart of the city.