NORCs Evolve into Alternatives for Assisted Care

Aging in Place has become a popular alternative to moving into a retirement residence for many older adults and aging Boomers. But, people who want to age in place need a lot of help outside of family caregivers. In some instances, people have stayed in their neighborhoods and apartment buildings for twenty to thirty years. They have come to depend on each other, to evolve into a Naturally Occuring Retirement Communities (NORCs).

In the mid-1980’s the UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York started to work with health and social services so older adults could remain living in market rate apartment buildings in New York City.

NORCs are starting up in the nearby State of New Jersey. "Seniors want to stay in their homes, but if the social supports or the safety net is not in place, it is difficult for them to remain," Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Hunterdon/Mercer), told NJSpotlight.

Gusciora has become the prime sponsor for Assembly Bill 353 which will call for recognition of NORCs in New Jersey. "East Rutherford, where my grandmother used to live," Gusciora told the media source. "You have neighborhoods where the children have moved away, and the parents have remained."

The bill would offer wide-ranging support for NORC residents - counseling, recreation, support groups, health education, on-site nurses and doctors, medication management, transportation, and other assistance. Gusciora told NJSpotlight: "Senior services will be brought to the community, and it allows seniors to stay in their homes, to keep healthier and keep their morale up."

Karen Alexander, director of eldercare services for United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey told the media source: "Each community is slightly different and each community has a slightly different story to tell." She said, "In Parsippany we've reached over 1,000 people over the years, between the employment program, and social work assistance and home repairs."

"We have helped people well into their '80s to find work," Alexander told NJSpotlight: "For many seniors work provides meaning, structure and purpose. Having a place to go where you are making a contribution can be important for maintaining a sense of vitality."

AARP also supports the bill. Ev Liebman, state director for advocacy, told the media source: "One of the unique things about these NORC initiatives is that, if done well, they involve the residents themselves in figuring out what they need in their communities and how these programs should be governed."

NORCs remain an evolving alternative to assisted living and continuing care.