A different take on intergenerational living

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Lois A. Bowers
Lois A. Bowers

Many senior living communities are welcoming students of all ages — some as temporary residents — and scheduling activities to foster intergenerational relationships.

Other operators are building multigenerational campuses complete with housing for families and individuals of all ages as well as retail and other amenities.

It's rarer for communities to see different generations of the same family moving to a campus designed for older adults. But that's exactly the trend that a nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Texas seems to be experiencing.

At Presbyterian Village North in Dallas, a Presbyterian Communities and Services community, two generations from at least three families are living at the community at the same time.

The most recent example includes Betty Chan, 91 (lower right in the accompany photo); her daughter, Pam Altizer, 64; and Pam's husband, Goose Altizer, 86 (also pictured). All live in independent living, although Betty lives in a Martins Landing apartment and the Altizers live in a patio home.

Pam and Goose became familiar with the community as they helped set up her mother's apartment in October 2016. “At the time, Goose and I were not even considering selling our house or thinking of moving into a senior living community ourselves,” Pam said.

This past summer, however, the Altizers sought to downsize. They looked at townhomes and smaller houses but ultimately decided to sell their house and move into the CCRC, which they did in July.

“We decided to move into one of PVN's patio homes because we were bringing two beagles with us, Ringo and Ethel,” Goose said. “There is more space here, and the setup is like a smaller house, which fits our needs. At our old house, we lived next to a school and a park where we could walk the dogs, so having access to a dog park and walking trails was very important to us.”

Betty said she enjoys visits from the dogs and spending time with her family.

“We eat dinner together several nights a week, we go to the theater, the symphony and many other events,” she said. They said they love living close to each other but also appreciate having their own space.

PVN also is home to independent living residents Gene Thompson, 89, who lives in a custom home, and her daughter, Christy Thompson, 65, who lives in the Martins Landing section.

The third family, which seems to have started the trend, includes independent living residents Kenneth and Sally Henneberger, who moved into a Martins Landing apartment in September 2016. It also includes Kenneth's sister Kay Crawford and her husband, Noble, who moved into Martins Landing a month later. All are in their 70s. Kenneth and Kay's mother, Kathleen, now in her 90s, has lived at PVN since 2009 and now is a resident in skilled nursing.

“It is so refreshing to see families who value time with each other come together to live in the same community and make new memories together,” said Vicki Caldwell, PVN director of residential sales.

Senior living communities already know that marketing to a prospective resident should include marketing to the older adult's grown children because they are decision-influencers. And the industry already is preparing for a future wave of baby boomers who will have activities of daily living needs. Those baby boomers will turn 54 to 72 in 2018, younger than senior living residents' average age on move-in of 75 to 84, according to the Where You Live Matters campaign of the American Seniors Housing Association. Given PVN's experience, however, perhaps it's not too early for communities — especially CCRCs — to regularly market to those baby-boomer children as prospective residents themselves.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.

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