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Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

As we get older, we must make important decisions regarding our living situations. While some people may opt to move into a seniors home or a facility that has been designed specifically for older populations, many people choose to stay in their homes as long as possible, otherwise known as aging in place. Naturally occurring retirement communities (also known as NORCs) can be thought of as a combination of aging in place and facilities that are designed for seniors.

Naturally occurring retirement communities are defined as communities with a large population of older adults that came about organically. Naturally occurring retirement communities often develop in three main ways. Aging in place may result in a naturally occurring retirement community if many people moved into the community when they were younger and decide to stay as they age.

They may also occur through processes of emigration and immigration. Regarding emigration, naturally occurring retirement communities may occur when older people remain in the community as younger residents move out. On the other hand, they may also occur if a number of older residents move into a community.

Naturally occurring retirement communities can be found in an apartment building or condo, as Co-operative housing, as well as a larger geographic context such as a neighbourhood.

Benefits of naturally occurring retirement communities

Although these communities of older adults emerged naturally, many communities develop NORC programs, which are also known as NORC supportive service programs. These programs serve the residents with social and healthcare services that are designed to positively impact the mental and physical health of the aging population. These services allow residents to maintain their independence and live comfortably.

Read about two case studies regarding naturally occurring retirement communities in the United States and Canada. These case studies include information on how the NORCs came to be, how they function, and how they impact the senior residents.

NORC programs tend to be funded jointly by government agencies and private organizations in order for the services and activities to be offered on-site.

Services and activities

Some of the services and activities that may be included in a NORC program are:

  • Medical services from visiting nurses and doctors. Keep in mind that this care is not full-time or complex.
  • social activities, such as game nights, organized outings, and book clubs are often offered, allowing senior citizens to have an active social life.
  • Fitness classes allow residents to maintain their physical health.
  • Guidance in regard to the benefits and assistance residents can apply for or are entitled to.
  • Educational courses for residents to enroll in.

Finding a NORC

If you or someone you love is looking to find a naturally occurring retirement community, it can be beneficial to check out local agencies that are dedicated to aging. Information on aging in place, housing accommodations for seniors, and other resources can also be found on state or provincial government websites.

These resources may be helpful in finding a NORC, as well as getting more services to the NORC you already live in. Don’t forget that you can always reach out to friends and family members in order to learn about their living situations and the services that are provided in their area!

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