Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) ….a cost effective way to support seniors

#seniors #babyboomers #unitedway #seniorcare

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On November 13, 2022 The Toronto Star had an article about Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC). I’d never heard of them and Wikipedia defines them as “a community that has a large proportion of residents over 60 but not specifically planned or designed to meet the needs of seniors living independently in their homes.

NORCs may develop in three ways:

  • Aging in place: numerous persons moved into a community when they were younger
  • Emigration: older people remain in a community as younger residents mover out
  • Immigration: numerous older people move into a community”

As I read the research, NORCs could be a low cost approach to health aging. They certainly make more sense than building more long term care homes.

NORCs support older adults as they age in place. They can remain socially connected, healthy and active within their own community. NORCs have been around in the USA since 1986 while in Canada the first one was established in London Ontario in 1996.

Research says that social interaction, activity and good nutrition are key for seniors to remain healthy. Some NORCs provide communal spaces where meals can be eaten and some hire an onsite coordinator who organizes activities and may help members navigate the medical or social systems. Members remain involved in the decisions.

There might be on-site health and social work professionals or those services might be close by. Each NORC is as unique as the community it serves.

Because NORCs are multi-aged there is the potential for lots of stimulation and volunteer opportunities. People who become part of this community naturally care for each other.

NORCs would require all levels of government to work together along with health and service providers and policymakers. As I read the research United Way organizations came to mind as a good fit to identify potential spots and then assist to implement NORC programs.

Since seniors are the fastest growing population group, it’s time to look at alternative ways to keep seniors active, safe and healthy in a cost effective way. NORCs might be one answer.

Over and over we hear dire reports of what will happen as our populations age yet it seems to me no level of government is willing to look at alternative programs, cooperate with other levels of government and actually initiate what we all know is needed. Instead of pointing the finger of blame, it’s time local, provincial and federal governments work together.

Published by Joan Craven

Joan Craven has been a

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