An Interdisciplinary Approach to Aging and the Built Environment

Intergenerational Communities

The Ideal Intergenerational Community

After three years of study and consultation with experts from various fields, the New Cities Initiative has identified several qualities that an ideal intergenerational community should possess:

It should bring inhabitants and people of all ages together on common ground through both planned and spontaneous interactions.

It should provide housing for people of all ages that can accommodate singles as well as families with a progressive architecture and plans based on universal design principles to enhance aging in place, visitability, user friendliness, health, and health care.

It should have walkable open areas and bicycle paths leading to medical assistance, recreation, shopping for essentials, natural settings, and special places that embody and enhance intergenerational life.

It should be affordable for low- as well as middle-income people.

It should provide a community-based nursing program to all inhabitants, which is integrated carefully into the local health care system through a neighborhood health care satellite.

It should nurture encore careers and volunteer activities that engage the community and mentor young people.

It should provide opportunities for life-long learning ranging from pre-school through adult education and intergenerational exchanges.

It should have connections to the outside world both virtual and physical, including public transportation and electronic connections not only to the Internet, but also to future innovations in telecare and telemedicine services offered by local health centers, research institutions, and local senior housing complexes of various kinds.

It should attract people from surrounding neighborhoods to participate in a range of intergenerational experiences and services, including health care, education opportunities, and meeting places.

And, finally, because building an intentionally intergenerational community enters untested ground, it should be continually evaluated through studies and assessments of its effectiveness.


Intergenerational Community Building in Lawrence, Kansas

The New Cities Initiative works to encourage and foster two different projects that are underway in Lawrence, one dedicated to fostering aging in place in an established neighborhood, the other dedicated to creation of a new, planned intergenerational community. Both projects will afford opportunities for aging research.

Community Village Lawrence, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to making aging at home a possibility for older adults in Lawrence. Originally named Eastside Village Lawrence, which focused on an area known as East Lawrence, the organization has recently expanded its mission to include all residences in the city and changed its name to reflect its new mission.

The Campus Village corporation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fulfilling the recommendation of the joint Lawrence/Douglas County Task Force on Attraction and Retention of Retirees. The task force report recommended that “the City and County should work with the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association, The KU Endowment Association, the private sector and other appropriate stakeholders with the goal of establishing an intergenerational long-life community with diverse housing options in Lawrence for KU Alumni and Friends, Haskell Alumni and Friends, and Baker University Alumni and Friends within five years.”

The Campus Village Board of Directors works closely with local developers, the city, and county to achieve optimal realization of the task force recommendation.

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