Edna was being priced out of her beloved San Francisco home, where she’d lived for the past 30 years. Her children had all moved to different states and Edna was very concerned about where she’d end up living. A California girl at heart, she couldn’t fathom being based anywhere else in the country. She’d visited a few nearby retirement communities, but none had the activities, social life, and engaged learning that she yearned for. But when her youngest son mentioned senior housing communities tied to colleges, she listened closely.
His words painted a reassuring picture. These are places where she’d be surrounded by other older adults, bright students, and plenty of programming to keep her mind challenged and her body fit. It didn’t take long for Edna to fill out an application for a campus-affiliated retirement community. She moved in soon after and has been enjoying the dynamic energy that surrounds her ever since.
Why California Colleges Campuses Are Encouraging Senior Housing
As Edna experienced personally, more and more older adults are being affected by America’s fast-growing aging population: the price of housing is increasing and it’s harder to find good healthcare. In an effort to counteract this equation, more senior housing is being created, either on college campuses or nearby. While this might seem like an unlikely pairing, it actually offers multiple solutions to a complex problem. One example is happening at the University of Stanford in Palo Alto. They’ve built a retirement community just a mile away from campus, where residents enjoy top-notch healthcare, discussions led by professors, and continuing education programs. There’s also a free shuttle to transport residents to and from the university campus.
Another instance is the University of California San Diego, home to the nonprofit Center for Healthy Aging. In partnership with the local housing industry, the university is in the early stages of planning on-campus senior housing—with intentions to discover better preventive home healthcare practices for older adults.
Dr. Dilip Jeste, head of UCSD’s Center for Healthy Aging, suggests that the future of senior healthcare is at home. It won’t be long before hospitals will be primarily used for very specialized procedures. With steady advancements being made in home monitoring systems, it’s quickly becoming easier to care for your loved one in their own home.
The senior housing at UCSD will be used as a “living lab” to support this transition. Medical staff, researchers, and students will be exploring new technologies, tools, and approaches to help improve home healthcare for seniors living on campus. Ultimately, they hope to learn how to create the optimal quality of life for older adults.
Benefits of Senior Housing Near Colleges for Caregivers and Loved Ones
It won’t be for everyone, but there are numerous advantages to living in on-campus senior housing like the example at UCSD, or in close proximity to a campus such as the residencies near Stanford. This type of accommodation offers many benefits for your aging loved one, including affordability, a vibrant community, socialization, and quality healthcare.
- Affordable housing for seniors
The rising population of older adults in America will shake up the housing market. Currently, 4.3 million people over 65 years old live in California alone—a number that’s risen 18% in the past 16 years. And with San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area being one of the most expensive regions in the country, many older adults are anxious about affording a home. Senior housing based on or near college campuses offers an affordable solution.
- Intergenerational experience for all
Being in close proximity to young people doing innovative work creates an inspiring and energizing place to live. Intergenerational socialization between seniors and young adults benefits both groups: older adults feel re-invigorated and mentally stimulated while younger students learn to appreciate the aging process more. On-campus housing also makes it even easier for older adults to continue their lifelong learning through auditing classes or special lectures.
- Great healthcare for senior residents
Some universities benefit from being able to do research with residents and, in these situations, older adults also gain a lot. Living on-campus gives your aging loved one round-the-clock access to excellent healthcare and doctors. Not to mention the fact that institutions like UCSD and Stanford offer state-of-the-art medical care and innovative approaches to living well.
- Advancements in home healthcare
It’s not only those living on-campus that will get better healthcare—the surrounding community will benefit, too. When researchers learn how to provide older adults with the best home healthcare possible, we all win. Better medical research means better care for those aging in place. Personalized medicine will improve, as well as tools and training for caregivers and home care aids.
Ultimately, it’s hopeful that senior housing on and near college campuses will positively impact the quality of life for older adults living everywhere in California. And it’s comforting to know that whether or not your loved one chooses to live in on-campus senior housing, they’ll still be able to benefit from the progress made. Senior housing on or near college campuses is a great way to surround your aging loved one with a vibrant community and an energizing daily life.
If you’re unsure how to help your aging loved one find proper home care or housing in the Bay Area, Institute on Aging can help. Connect with us today to learn more.