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Senior Citizens are now living much longer and more productive lives and retirement communities are now adapting to this trend. In the past, retiring at age 55 was fairly common, but now seniors are working well into their 60s or 70s as a result of wanting to stay motivated and stimulated and also due to the weak global economy – which makes it necessary for some seniors to work until they are much older. There are more than 35 million people in the US over the age of 65 and in the year 2030 there will be approximately 80 million. Projected percentage increase in the 65-and- over population between 2000 and 2050 is estimated to grow by 147%. By comparison, the population as a whole would have increased by only 49 percent over the same period. (Source: Senior Journal http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/SeniorStats/5-04-25SeniorFacts.htm)
Traditional retirement communities such as Sun City in Arizona or Leisure World in Seal Beach, California offer homes or apartments in gated or protected communities where older people play golf or have group activities sponsored by the retirement community. These communities are large and have been successful based on their locations in sunny and warm climates with access to many services for senior citizens. However, a new model for retirement communities has emerged centered upon the theme of “lifelong learning” and the concept that seniors want to keep their minds active through additional university study or even the pursuit of college degrees in various disciplines. As a result, retirement communities have begun locating near universities and linking the university curriculum and university-based programs with the retirement communities.
There is a need by seniors to be more engaged and to keep their minds active. Senior citizens are looking for meaning in their older years, the ability to learn, and to provide service and value to their community and to their families in their retirement years.
Typically, senior citizens are expected to live in retirement communities where they are not active and simply wait for their lives to end. There are no expectations or goals for them to achieve and as a result many senior citizens deteriorate rapidly and may develop Alzheimer’s disease or other problems due to a lack of mental stimulation.
Universities in the US are looking at ways to diversify, to offer more programs in distance learning and continuing education, and to partner with the local community. University Linked Retirement Communities offer the perfect solution for universities to embrace a largely increasing sector of the US economy and to offer services to a growing population of senior citizens.
Colleges and universities are viewed as “agents of change” and often bring new thinking and ideas to a community. Universities are now at the forefront of creating new models for retirement in the US. They can offer personal growth for seniors through the study of culture and the offering of intellectual stimulation.
Retirement communities have an opportunity to expand their offerings to active seniors who may wish to study art or music or even a new profession through a continuing education program at a local university.
There are a number of important features that need to be included in a successful learning-based retirement community. These include:
This means that there needs to be a variety of programs and options for the senior citizen to choose from. From basic courses offered through continuing education to the offering of full degree programs in a number of disciplines. There needs to be a wide variety of courses and study plans made available to the senior citizen.
Former professors, experts, government employees, and other senior citizens with expertise should be allowed to lecture at the local university, mentor students, and to offer their expertise and talent in a volunteer or even paid position with the university. This allows for a rich environment where the university and senior citizens can work with each other toward common goals.
Younger students at universities can learn from older people who might have served in the military and fought in battle or who might have lived overseas in foreign countries. University Linked Retirement Communities can offer a number of contexts to support this cross generational enrichment through classroom education, athletics and sports, and cultural activities and events.
Senior citizens in university-linked communities have many choices for mental and physical stimulation and they are fully occupied with new learning and ideas and cultural enrichment. This means their personal growth will be ongoing and they will thrive in new and challenging intellectual environments.
This retirement community is linked to Dartmouth University and counts retired Dartmouth alumni and professors as the largest single proportion of its population. “At Dartmouth College in New Hampshire retirees can find a small but charming downtown, along with senior discounts on film series, concert series, and local repertory theatre performances. In addition, Dartmouth runs the Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth (ILEAD), a program of peer-led continuing educaiton programs for adults, where it's not unusual to find a seminar on international diplomacy being taught by a former ambassador, who the following day may be a student in a class on the history of ballet taught by a retired ballet company manager.” (Source: http://www.cooperativeaging.com/universitylinked_retirement_communities/)
Residents in Kendal at Hanover pay entry fees of $107,492 to $393,646, plus monthly fees ranging from $2,038 to $4,778. At another Kendal community in Lexington, Va., which is linked to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University, costs are a bit lower. Entry fees there start at just under $97,000, while monthly fees can be as low as $1,800.
A residential senior retirement community offering its residents an active and stimulating life while enjoying the beauty of the Finger Lakes in Central New York. To insure opportunities for personal growth, Longview has a close program-focused relationship with Ithaca College, located just down the road. This relationship assures that the activities and daily events incorporate education, music, plays and other blended, intergenerational events that enhance the Longview lifestyle.
Monthly fees at Longview begin at $1,200 per month.
The Hyatt Corp., under its Classic Residences division, has been developing and managing continuing care retirement communities since 1987. The company leased 22.4 acres from Stanford University (Calif.) and announced plans in 2001 to construct a 388-apartment center, which includes a community center, cafe, spa, art studio, pool, underground parking, and biking and walking trails. The facility will also include 106 units offering assisted living, nursing care, Alzheimer's, and skilled nursing care.
The complex, which is set to open next year, is first being offered to some 300 leaseholders who own houses on land leased from the university. In addition, some 5,000 faculty and staff members who are age 60 and over were targeted as potential residents of the complex. Units will be offered to the general public after the initial offering to the university community.
The complex offers apartments that range in size from 900 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet. There is an entrance fee that ranges from $600,000 to $1.7 million. Ninety percent of the entrance fee is refundable if residents leave the facility, or it will be refunded to their estate. Hyatt charges a monthly fee ranging from $2,700 to more than $5,000 per month, depending on the number of individuals in an apartment. The fee includes a variety of services, including meals.
Campus Continuum works directly with colleges and universities to plan, market, and assist in operating university-branded 55+ active adult communities. This includes seeking advice on how to construct mutually advantageous working relationships. They develop lifestyle programs that will attract prospective residents and plan marketing strategies that generate qualified leads.
Campus Continuum has conducted market demands surveys for 55+ active adult communities connected with Juniata College (Huntingdon, PA), Saint Francis University (Loretto, PA), University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (Oshkosh, WI) and University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth (Dartmouth, MA).
Campus Continuum works with their academic partners to provide faculty-like access to their programs and facilities, and asks them to assist in marketing to older alumni and other prospective residents not affiliated with the school, and to nominate a Dean of Programs. Campus Continuum requires no significant capital investment from their academic hosts.
Under this relationship, colleges obtain annually recurring revenues and if the community is built on campus-owned land, the college receives additional compensation either via a sale, long term ground lease or equity, as preferred by the institution.
According to Robert Chellis, senior advisor and principal of Chellis-Silva Associates Senior Housing, in Wellesley Hills, Mass., points out the one resource that many IHEs have at their disposal is land.
"Most schools have empty land, and you can build a several-story retirement complex on as little as 13 acres, depending upon your zoning requirements," says Chellis. He mentions Lasell College (Mass.) as an example, where a 107-unit facility was built on 13 acres.
Chellis notes that retirement complexes can be very profitable, generating long-term income in the millions of dollars, depending on the size of the complex. IHEs can make money from the outright sale of the land, leasing land, or setting independent partnerships with developers that can contribute long-term income. He also notes that many CFOs are looking more at real estate opportunities as a way to expand their school's investment portfolio.
"If you lease land for a complex, for example, you earn annual income, and at the end of the lease term, say 50 years, you can decide to continue the arrangement, or use the building, which you now own, for other purposes," Chellis explains. He mentions that IHEs can also earn income from reselling the units, depending on the terms of the contract with the developer and the complex management.
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