BC Pilots Intergenerational Senior Housing

Families see it happen all too often, older adults fight to stay in their existing homes far past the time when they could really benefit from living in a community where they can get help as needed and the living space is designed with seniors in mind.   Then after a fall or other health emergency, adults children are left scrambling to find a spot in a care facility, creating a stressful situation for seniors and their family caregivers.

Often adult children want to help their parents but many private homes are not conducive to seniors, with narrow hallways too tight for wheelchairs or walkers and bedrooms and bathrooms up long staircases.  And suburban homes can be isolated from public transportation and easily accessible community centers.  While families are at work or school, elderly parents are left alone and may become socially disconnected from their peers and begin to suffer from depression.  But in recent years, new approaches to senior living are being tested in communities across North America and Europe. 

In the Netherlands and even in the United States, students are living rent free in retirement homes in exchange for working volunteer hours and more communities worldwide are embracing intergenerational living arrangements.  Younger adults bring a sense of the outside world home with them to senior residents and can help them learn new technology or share a skill or talent.  There are nearly 100 University Based Retirement Communities across the U.S., according to a recent PBS report.

And in Canada, a new approach to senior living where children can live with their parents and engage extra help as needed is nearing completion.  A novel Vancouver residential condominium is expected to be completed by early 2019 and will require only that one family member in a suite is over the age of 55.  More flexible, affordable senior housing will help meet the needs of a rapidly aging population that wants to age in place but may need some support; Opal by Element is designed to provide these services such as meal preparation, personal or nursing care, as required.  Instead of an all or nothing approach, seniors and their family caregivers can live together in a rental or condo unit that eases the financial burden of assisted living or outside home care while meeting the needs of aging adults.  On-site activities, such as yoga or art classes, provide residents with engaging opportunities to stay physically and mentally challenged. 

To learn more about Opal’s intergenerational retirement community, follow this link to the Element website.