With names like Elderberry, Justamere, Generosity Farm and Hart’s Mill Eco-Village, there are several types of housing options for seniors coming to Orange, Person and Chatham counties. These models are varied: intergenerational, over-55 and intentional neighborhoods. Other future models highlighted at the late-October Senior Housing Expo included pocket neighborhoods, shared housing, tiny houses, rental properties with affinity groups and eldercare homes.
Elderberry is a rural co-housing ecovillage in Person County near Rougemont located on an old 10-acre farmstead 30 minutes from downtown Durham. The community vision is “to be self-managed with a commitment to care for one another as they grow older. The community will have 18 private, energy-efficient, universally-designed homes (small duplexes and quadraplexes) spaced around a large, round common house” designed by Deltec, a prefabricated home manufacturer headquartered in Asheville. Elderberry will have gardens, a central courtyard with a restored log farmhouse and paths connecting all to the common house. Two homes are occupied, two more are almost ready for their owners to move into, and nine Elderberry members are in various stages of designing their homes. There are five home sites still available. For more information, go to Elderberrycohousing.com.
Justamere Retirement Community will be located on 140 acres surrounding the southern tip of Lake Orange – 10 minutes from Hillsborough, 30 minutes from Chapel Hill, RDU International Airport and Durham, and 45 minutes from Raleigh and Greensboro. Justamere will offer independent senior living and assisted living. A conference center will be integral to Justamere’s commitment to educational opportunities and enrichment activities. Green building techniques and innovative energy and water management are also part of the plan for Justamere. For more information, contact John W. Tolar at 919-644-2964.
Giles Blunden, the 72-year-old architect who designed two co-housing communities in Carrboro – Arcadia and Pacifica – is looking to create an intergenerational community – Generosity Farm – location to be decided – that focuses on sustainable agriculture and explicitly explores how people can journey together to the end of life. To find out more about this project go to kickstarter.com/projects/roadmap to generosity farm.
Paul Voss and Anthony Weston are exploring a path similar to Generosity Farm, but their – Hart’s Mill Eco-Village – will be located near Efland in Orange County. They are in the discussion phase of selecting an ownership model for housing units with the goal of “vigorous, diverse and skilled membership with an emphasis being given to the important topic of aging, declining and dying in the context of a caring and supportive intentional community.” Their journey can be charted at hartsmill.net.
The Expo was a combination trade show and mini-conference. Builders and product developers set up booths and others held mini-conferences with break-out sessions on topics ranging from “Decision Making in Community” to “Key Home Alterations for Staying in Your Current Home.”
Sponsored in part by the Orange County Department on Aging, the Senior Housing Expo was held at the Seymour Center and brought home that there has been a paradigm shift in thinking about how to live as we age – from one of independence to one of interdependence, according to Cherie Rosemond a research scientist at UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
Rosemond has been working as a consultant to the Orange County Department on Aging as it develops a Master Aging Plan. In her research, she found that two-thirds of those living in nursing homes or adult care homes are over 85 years old, according to the 2012 Census.
“We dread our need for long-term care but for most, after 65, we have 20 years of interdependent living ahead of us,” Rosemond said. “The question becomes, ‘how and where to live during those 20 years?’”