Niche Senior Living: Redefining Lifelong Learning

Niche senior living communities, dedicated to residents with similar interests, are popping up everywhere. Retirees can find communities geared towards everything ranging from LGBT lifestyles, to art and music lovers, to RV-living. One of the more popular trends is retirement communities located in close proximity to colleges and universities, providing opportunities for seniors to keep their minds sharp and continue their educations. Often, these communities have partnerships with universities to offer free or discounted tuition to residents.

You could also fulfill a lifelong dream, just as 92-year-old Estelle Rees Arroyo of California did, graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in history from California State University of Sacramento on May 22nd. In Estelle’s case, she wasn’t living in a niche community, but with the growing trend of lifelong learning and niche retirement communities, it’s likely that Estelle’s story will only the first among many late-in-life college graduates.

Continued education delays cognitive decline

As Estelle pointed out, “I was looking at too much TV. I was worried my mind would turn to mush.” She’s right: The Journals of Gerontology published a study in 2007 that demonstrated clear benefits from adult learning in both mid- and late-life. While late-life education didn’t help to improve mental speed or concentration, there were clear benefits on verbal memory, verbal ability and verbal fluency later in life.

Niche retirement communities offer lifelong learning

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Many well-known universities are now partnering with senior living communities

While niche communities are just beginning to become more common, a number of well-known universities already have partnerships with senior living communities. Cornell, Penn State, Stanford and Oberlin are just a few universities which have already partnered with local senior living communities. also names the Oak Hammock at the University of Florida in Gainesville, which is home to an in-house “Institute on Learning in Retirement.” Interested? You’ll have discounted rates for access to courses such as Managing the Global Economy and the Debate on Net Neutrality.

University-based retirement communities are just the beginning

The learning opportunities at these communities contribute more benefits than merely a pastime. But there are other niche communities cropping up that may surprise you: For instance, reports on The World of Residency, a privately-owned luxury yacht with 165 residences that sails around the world. Not everyone can say that they plan to sail the world in their golden years!

So what about you? If you could pick one hobby you’re so passionate about that you’d jump at the chance to live in a community with a bunch of like-minded folks, what would it be? Horseback riding? Spelunking? Sailing the ocean blue? With today’s seniors taking charge of their own retirement years more so than ever before, the possibilities are endless! Share with us your ideal niche retirement community in the comments below.

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