Retirees get everything but the exams: football games, lectures, concerts and beautiful surroundings. Many universities now offer on-campus senior housing communities that make life enjoyable.
Jim Davis lives on campus at Penn State, attends football and basketball games and works out daily at its track. But there’s little chance you’d mistake him for an undergrad. Rather, the 75-year-old alum and his wife are residents in a new on-campus senior housing community called The Village. They’re among a growing group of active seniors returning to their alma maters, lured by fond college memories, good hospitals and the proximity of rich entertainment and cultural events. The Village’s 212 residents take exercise classes together, dine in groups at its on-site restaurant and attend lectures, concerts and other events on campus.
Dozens of college- or university-linked senior housing projects have been built in the U.S., many at such prestigious schools as the University of Michigan, Stanford, Dartmouth, Notre Dame and Oberlin.
Developers are betting that today’s seniors and tomorrow’s baby boomer retirees don’t want to be isolated in age-restricted communities, such as the Sun Cities of years past. Instead, says elder-care expert Marion Somers, Ph.D., they want to become a more integral part of the mainstream community. “This is an age group that doesn’t consider itself old,” Somers says. “They want that liveliness and energy that comes from being around younger people.”
Cash-strapped universities and colleges see the senior projects as a way to generate revenue, either by leasing excess land to senior-housing developers or by simply forging closer ties with alumni donors. And there’s no better time to strengthen this bond, observers say, than in former students’ golden years, when they are more likely to bequeath a larger chunk of their estate.
Having seniors nearby can prove useful to the university in other ways, too. At Penn State, interns have used The Village to get experience in their chosen field. Kinesiology students lead exercise classes and give one-on-one fitness coaching and physical therapy to residents. At other communities, senior music majors give recitals to fulfill their requirements and medical students help out at wellness centers.
Just the beginning
Senior housing architect Rob Steinberg, who designed the Stanford community, says senior communities on college campuses are just the next step in a move to more intergenerational retirement housing. In the years ahead, Steinberg says, we should see senior communities built next to preschools or elementary schools, oftentimes in large complexes with gyms, community centers, restaurants and shops.
Extracted from an article by Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate