new senior class: Boomers on campus
'University-linked retirement communities'
unite seniors, colleges
Marilyn Bowden Bankrate.com||
As baby boomers head into their
retirement years, college-town community developers and campus administrators are betting that an increasing contingent of seniors will opt for the classroom over the shuffleboard court.
Experts estimate about 50 university-linked or college-linked
retirement communities now exist on or near university or college
campuses, and another 50 or so are in various stages of development.
As part of the deal, residents get the same perks available to students
and faculty, from taking classes and using the library to attending
concerts and lectures at little or no charge.
say the communities benefit everyone. Residents enjoy the intellectual and social stimuli
of a college town. The institutions profit both financially and culturally. Students
stand to gain from mentoring and more on-campus job opportunities in such areas
as dining hall or transportation services. Some communities have become federal work-study
sites where students can learn about aging and at the same time earn compensation
toward their tuitions.
"This new model of retirement holds
great potential for giving older adults new and meaningful roles and opportunities
for personal growth," says Tien-Chien Tsao, a principal of Collegiate Retirement
Community Consultants and a senior research associate with the National Center
on Housing and Living Arrangements for Older Adults at the University of Michigan.
"It definitely will become one major alternative that the baby-boomer generation
Anyone excited by the idea of going
back to college permanently needs to do research before re-enrolling.
The communities' structures vary. Some are only for independent living; others
offer continuing care, allowing residents to age in place at on-site, assisted-living
facilities and long-term-care centers. Those choices affect costs significantly.
And a few communities have run into financial jams.
University life isn't everyone's idea of utopia, of course.
But promoters say the communities can be an attractive alternative for lifelong learners,
people actively interested in community involvement and cultural pursuits, as
well as those with university affiliations.
"In many cases, communities
in university towns are affinity-based," says John Krout, director of the
Gerontology Institute at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. "People moving there
have things in common."
Krout says a 10-year
joint study he spearheaded with researchers at Ithaca and nearby Cornell University
showed that many of the first residents to join surrounding university-linked retirement communities had
a Cornell connection. Still, he says, the study found residents, overall, had
many reasons to move to one.
who moved into the one continuing-care community, Kendal in Ithaca, were primarily
looking to ensure that they would have long-term care provided," he says.
"They did not want to have to move to a nursing facility in a moment of crisis
or depend on family. To a lesser extent, they wanted to get away from the pressures
At the other end of the economic scale in Ithaca
is a high-rise that offers low-income housing. There, Krout says, residents were
"younger, but also poorer and less healthy. They were there because it was
the best they could get, given their limited resources."