The New CCRC Is the City: Part 1

Urban senior living communities are best conceived when thinking “out of the box.”

senior housing, elders, aging in place, cities


Marguerite Anglin


Deborah Seitz


Rose Plummer

Also known as “life care” communities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) are residential campuses that support senior residents for life by providing the full continuum of senior housing, care and socialization from independent living to nursing care.  Most are located in the suburbs or on the fringes of cities.  Unfortunately, many aging adults today are not financially able to move to a CCRC.  Meanwhile, the AARP estimates nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their neighborhoods as they age, with a rapidly growing proportion choosing to live in cities.

As the senior living industry responds to this trend, some CCRCs are thinking out of the box, and outside of their walls. “CCRCs without walls” are a new concept, providing “life care” to seniors at home and for much less cost.  The program also allows “at-home” members to enjoy amenities on campus. Other senior living communities are partnering with home health providers to 

offer services beyond their campuses. This collaborative approach not only helps seniors age in place, but engages the community, adds revenue, and increases the senior providers’ visibility.

What if we used this inside-out CCRC as a model to design our neighborhoods?  Could cities contribute to senior “life care”? Similar to a CCRC, the city can provide a range of housing options, a diversity of services, and a range of care and social supports to meet the needs of people as they age.  What if we strategically integrated the residences and services typically found on a CCRC campus throughout a neighborhood, located them centrally and designed them to support the needs of that community? As an interconnected system of people, housing, and services the city itself becomes a new "CCRC."