Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)
A fortuitous subset of independent living comes with special access to assistance. These are naturally occurring communities that have a high-density senior population. They have a corresponding name: Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities or NORCs. NORCs are generally defined as a geographic area that organically became dense with seniors. In other words, the seniors were not drawn to the community by preexisting senior housing facilities or senior services. They came when they were younger, raised their families, and stayed.
If aging in place is important to you, and you don’t want a normal senior-oriented environment, find a NORC. NORCs will get increasing attention from the government. This means more senior services at affordable prices.
Steve & Carmen Glovsky
Governments Are Responding To NORCs
Activists and government officials involved in making policies for seniors noticed that large clusters of seniors were aging in place in certain areas. This was most noticeable in crowded urban areas where seniors lived in large apartment or condominium complexes. The Naturally Occurring Retirement Community phenomenon has become so important that the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 2006 gave the phenomena its own name and definition.
“…a community with a concentrated population of older individuals, which may include a residential building, a housing complex, an area (including a rural area) of single family residences, or a neighborhood composed of age-integrated housing — where 40 percent of the heads of households are older individuals; or a critical mass of older individuals exists, based on local factors that, taken in total, allow an organization to achieve efficiencies in the provision of health and social services to older individuals living in the community; and that is not an institutional care or assisted living setting.
Accordingly, all government policy is now historically ties to this policy observation. Therefore, every government program considers these communities.
Bried History Of NORCs
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities are unique in that no one built or planned them. In other words, they are organic. The original NORCs, for example, were in big cities like New York and Chicago, where vertical apartment buildings, that at one time housed families, ended up inhabited largely by aging seniors. They became important because activists and policymakers interested in providing services to seniors found these communities special.
Local Governments Could Provide Relatively Low-Cost Services To NORCs
In a sense, seniors were like fish in a barrel. For example, if you wanted to run experiments on how best to address seniors aging in place, NORCs were perfect. First, they were easy to target because they were identifiable. Second, they had lots of test subjects because they were communities of lots of seniors. Finally, the test subjects had similar characteristics. Thus, the government programs targeted NORCs. One of the first things they found was that providing services to NORCs was very efficient.
In addition, governments found that the services addressed seniors number one goal of staying home. Today, NORCs get lots of policymaker attention and targeted government services. Common services include, for example, in-home or building medical services, free transportation, wellness checks, and meal services. Also, check out what the State of New York does with their NORCs here.
NORCs Are A Version Of Independent Living With Benefits
NORCs are mentioned under independent living because seniors stay home. They live independently. However, they get services. In other words, if you live in one, you get access to assistance even though you’re in an independent housing situation. Kind of like having a caring child living next door. Seniors get their cake, and they can eat it too!
NORCs Are Expanding
As activists and policymakers target NORCs for government services, other high-density senior communities wanted in. For example, many of these were communities built out, not up. They were horizontal layouts, and they called themselves “villages.” The most famous village is The Villages in Florida. Over 50,000 seniors live here.
That’s 30,000 more people than the average US city. The Villages are not exactly a NORC, but they’re treated as one for purposes of targeting government services.
Why Every Senior Should Consider NORCs
Simply put, NORCs allow seniors to live independently with services. As seniors decline physically and cognitively, there are services to supplement the senior’s own abilities. In other words, it’s like being in an assisted living facility without having to pay.
Best of all, the services available at NORCs are large and growing. Although the NORC doesn’t provide the service, the government places the services in the NORC community.
The most common senior services readily available, for example, include those listed below.
Carmen and I encourage all seniors to consider NORCs as a viable housing environment. We also suggest that those living in a NORC, consider staying in the NORC. Here are the reason’s why. Firstly, NORCs get lots of services. These services are provided free or at very low costs. Secondly, NORCs are filled with seniors. This makes socializing much easier. Thirdly, most NORCs are in areas that seniors love. Finally, politicians will always try and support NORCs with services. It helps get votes.
In short, NORCs offer seniors services, companionship, and amenities.