Kappa Gramma: Senior Housing on College Campuses Attracting Lifelong
The popularity of senior housing nestled
alongside golf course fairways is being challenged by
seniors’-oriented apartments and condominiums within walking
Called "university based retirement communities," or UBRCs, these
properties offer college coursework and a host of attractions and
activities that many seniors find especially desirable.
Andrew Carle, an assistant professor and founding director of the
program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration at George
Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, explains the phenomenon.
"Boomers came of age in the dorms. They still go to the games, wear
the sweatshirts, and love the idea of
education. People feel
younger when they are surrounded by 20-year-olds. And they want the
perks that come with college life: theater, classes, guest speakers,
the library, even hanging out. This is the only model community that
is intergenerational by definition. To me, it's the future of senior
Numbers alone seem to support Carle’s opinion. Although AARP surveys
have found that the vast majority of Baby Boomers don’t plan to move
out of their homes or away from their communities when they retire,
10 percent of those aged sixty-plus actually do so. Considering the
fact that there are 78 million Boomers, perhaps as many as eight
million of them would consider a different lifestyle—including
Noting that there are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in
the U. S., Professor Carle concludes that college- and
university-affiliated housing "has the potential to be literally the
future of senior housing in this country."
Some of these properties offer
assisted living housing, although most, according to AARP, are
senior apartments or continuing care retirement communities. The
appeal, of course, is the availability of college coursework, as
well as such campus amenities as computer labs, fitness facilities,
sporting events, and medical and dental services.
Here’s an example. Oak Hammock is a 270-unit independent living
senior project situated on 136 acres at the University of Florida in
Gainesville. Residents are issued campus identification cards that
allow them unlimited use of campus facilities and activities. Oak
Hammock’s Institute of Learning, a cooperative venture that involves
the university and Elderhostel, provides continuing education
coursework taught by university professors and experts in particular
fields of study. Classes are held on the project campus, and are
free to residents. Gainesville residents aged 55 and older are also
eligible to attend.
who serve as instructors and personal trainers. Wellness programs
are available at the facility as well. There’s a 70,000-square foot
Commons Area that features a theater venue, auditorium, art studios,
and a business and computer center.
The Institute of Learning offers classes in art and music
appreciation, literature, creative writing, current events,
philosophy, and many others, all of which have no prerequisites,
tests or grades—even homework is optional. "The Role of the Media in
the 21st Century," "Ancient Peoples of the Western Hemisphere," "Why
Mathematics Really Does Count,’" "Energy for the Future," and
"Africa: A Continent in Change" are representative courses.
The 22,000-square foot, state-of-the-art, health club is outfitted
with two heated pools, massage and physical therapy facilities, and
is staffed by graduate
Oak Hammock boasts about its elegant dining, which is available in
formal and casual settings. There’s also a sports bar and grill, and
an ice cream parlor. There’s a pet park and an on-site veterinary
clinic that provides routing checkups and pet-sitting.
Transportation services and customized group travel packages and
programs are provided. There are walking trails, gardens and lakes.
Housekeeping services are available, and 24-hour security is
provided, with gate-controlled community access.
In addition, the project offers a "Life Care" guarantee, which is a
lifetime contract that provides unlimited access to assisted living,
skilled nursing and memory support as these services become
necessary. The Life Care program includes on-site wellness clinics
and a rehabilitation center, all designed to help residents remain
independent as long as possible.
College students also benefit by working on-site at UBRCs, or by
serving in internships. Universities provide the communities with
one-on-one training conducted by
instance, or ceramics or painting workshops taught by art students.
George Mason’s Carle, an unabashed fan of these projects, sums up
the appeal of university-based retirement centers. "Schools find
additional employment and work-related experiences for their
students and maintain that connection between alumni and faculty,"
he said. "Residents get an intergenerational, active, intellectually
stimulating environment. It's a win-win."
About the Author:
About the author: Laurence Harmon writes for Great Places. For
more information on
assisted living, go to
Webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate