First came “villages,” hyper-local groups created by aging neighbors to build a greater sense of community and help each other grow old at while remaining at home. These nonprofit groups arranged volunteer drivers, household helpers, social events and, in some cases, kept lists of reliable professionals, including plumbers, roofers, estate lawyers and even art appraisers. Now, 15 years and some 220 villages after the first one was born in Boston, a move is afoot to woo and welcome the active 50+ set. Most of these folks still work and don’t need rides to the supermarket or help raking leaves. They have no use for the names of pre-screened health aides or note-takers for medical visits. Their main goal is a richer social life with others similarly situated.
Last year, baby boomers began turning 70 years old. Thanks to advances in modern medicine and growing awareness about the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices, it’s no surprise that these seniors are living longer, healthier lives. Questions about retirement and where they’ll spend their post-retirement years remain top-of-mind for them, however. Continuing care retirement communities, also known as life plan communities, are evolving to attract and fulfill the needs of active boomers.
Nothing about Mather’s-More Than a Cafe looks as if it’s aimed at people over 50. But the Chicago cafe, which could easily be mistaken for a large Starbucks, is much more than that, serving as a community hub, mostly for older people, with dozens of classes on topics like flower arranging, Egyptian history and digital safety. In her six years as a member, Pat Knazze, 66, has taken line dancing and piano lessons and participated in over 50 seminars via Skype, including architecture classes that helped her qualify as a neighborhood docent.