Don’t Mind the Gap in Intergenerational Housing

This article is part of our latest Design special report about homes for multiple generations and new definitions of family.

My husband and I used to visit my mother-in-law, Helen, at a massive continuing-care retirement community on Long Island, intended to take its residents (minimum age, 62) all the way from “independent living” to hospice care.

“Hey, we should live here,” my husband would joke. “We’re old enough.”

“Over my dead body,” I’d reply, not joking at all.

I found the complex, in a remote corner of Port Washington, N.Y., depressing. Not that there was anything wrong with the accommodations. It is an exceptionally comfortable place, with plush apartments, a heated pool, a billiard room, Pilates classes and a resort-grade Sunday brunch omelet station.

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 — development that goes out of its way to mix older and younger people — is increasingly regarded as healthier, physically and psychologically. While we’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.

Read the full article from the new York Times here.