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Finding Your Niche Housing in Retirement — or Before!

The rise of affinity communities

Truly part of a community

College students often contribute in other ways. At the Kendal at Ithaca community in upstate New York, near Cornell University and Ithaca College, Cornell students helped redesign the continuing care retirement community's three dining areas. Students built life-size models and computer-based graphics and videos so Kendal residents and staff could critique their suggestions, and researched how human behavior affects traffic flow.

Kendal also has become the go-to spot to study aging and memory. "Cornell has realized that we're a living laboratory for studies in aging, so our residents get interviewed, and we're constantly fielding proposals from graduate students for research projects," says Betsy Schermerhorn, director of marketing and admissions for Kendal at Ithaca. It's an opportunity for both sides to interact with a demographic they ordinarily wouldn't.

Cindy Noble, 79, a former Cornell administrator and professor, lives in a two-bedroom unit at Kendal. She knows 40 former Cornell faculty members alone from just one of the university's 13 schools who are at Kendal, as well as the past president and provost. Often, current faculty come to present their latest research findings.

"It's good for us because it helps residents keep up-to-date with the university," says Noble, "and it's good for Cornell because it keeps them in contact with former faculty and alums, many of whom are loyal donors." Some residents have children who graduated from Cornell or Ithaca, grandchildren currently there, or adult children or nieces and nephews on the faculty. Like many older adults today, not everyone in UBRC housing is retired. One physicist at Kendal at Ithaca bikes to his office every day.

There are also plenty of adults at UBRC's with nonacademic backgrounds and no college connection. On the Kendal grounds are walking trails, a creative arts studio, a dog play area, and an 11,000-volume library. So many people signed up to learn Italian that they had to form two sections, while the winemaking group concocts its brew and conducts tastings in Kendal's wine cellar. Avid golfers can hit the links on courses nearby, volunteer at the Sciencenter museum downtown, eat out at one of the many restaurants or check out local theater.

A niche for au naturale >>

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