But everyone there was, in a word, old. And all the residents appeared to be living in exile, far removed from whatever their lives had once been.
By contrast, intergenerational housing â€” development that goes out of its way to mix older and younger people â€” is increasingly regarded as healthier, physically and psychologically. While weâ€™ve heard a lot lately about huge, leisure-oriented communities, like the Villages in Florida, inhabited exclusively by those 55 and older, the largest proportion of American seniors lives in the most intergenerational places: cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Why is housing designed to help older people stay in the mix becoming a priority? Two words: baby boomers. Currently, there are 73 million of us, all born between 1946 and 1964. According to the Census Bureau, about 10,000 members of this group turn 65 every day, â€œand by 2030, all boomers will be at least age 65.â€ As with every other aspect of society, boomers seem destined to transform the business of aging. At least, I hope we are. And weâ€™ll soon get help from Gen X, since the leading edge of that cohort is now turning 55.
â€œYou are not the only one,â€ AJ Viola, an entrepreneur working on a new housing approach for seniors, assured me when I told him about my memories of visiting my mother-in-law. â€œEvery single person we talked to â€¦ I feel like the verbiage is, â€˜I would rather die.â€™ How many times have folks said that to us?â€
A couple of years ago, Mr. Viola, 37, who was chief operating officer of D-Rev, a Silicon Valley company that made affordable medical devices, partnered with Zachary Hollander, 38, formerly of Google, to devise a different model of senior living. This was to be informed by technologyâ€™s spirit of endless reinvention and the observation that their parents were not anything like their grandparents or great-grandparents.