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Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

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What Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities do
What Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities do © Photo courtesy of Jewish Family Service of Cincinnati

"Everyone is aware of the fragmentation in health care. The landscape of community services is similar," says Dr. Emily A. Greenfield, associate professor of social work at Rutgers University.

"A lot of people don't have cause to make use of these services until there is a later-life challenge," she says, "and they quickly realize they are difficult to navigate."

Most services for older adults address a specific need, says Greenfield, who led a 2012 study of NORC programs. For example, Meals on Wheels helps those challenged by shopping and cooking.

NORC programs thrive in neighborhoods or apartment buildings where significant numbers of seniors live -- the specific requirements vary from state to state. "They work by developing partnerships among providers," Greenfield says, "and trying to establish relationships before there is some kind of care crisis."

While specific services vary widely depending on the needs of each community, most include social work and nursing services, educational and recreational services, and opportunities for social engagement as well as transportation, housekeeping and other ancillary services.

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