How do we make city living a viable option for seniors?
The inspiration to establish a retirement community right in the heart of Philadelphia-- one that encompasses Quaker values-- began with just a handful of couples who observed an unmet need. The idea solidified and, through word of mouth, soon spread like a grass fire among many people who already lived in the heart of the city as well as among empty nesters planning their return to the city.
City living is appealing for many of us - those who already live in vibrant, walkable Center City Philadelphia and the empty nesters who are moving downtown to take advantage of the city's amenities. A group of us asked ourselves what we could do to make city living a viable option for other seniors, as well?
Healthy aging and access to the amenities of the city have been the drivers behind the creation and evolution of Friends Center City Retirement Community (FCCRC), known now as Friends Center City (FCC), an organization dedicated to healthy aging and building community in Philadelphia.
At the outset (2004-2005), we formed a group with a focus on organizing a traditional Continuing Care Retirement Community in center city Philadelphia. Key elements would include:
- A residential complex with services that simplify living, freeing residents from routine activities like residential maintenance and meal preparation
- Lifetime healthcare that transitions residents from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care/memory care as one ages
- A robust program of activities and events for continuing engagement and a social network
An evolving model...
As planning proceeded, we discovered that people generally preferred to remain in their own homes rather than relocate to a new community. So our thinking shifted to a new perspective, to address the issue of aging-in-place in a different way.
Structuring our urban community
Our initial vision (2005 – today) prevailed but was reshaped to target four key goals:
- Support seniors in their wish to continue living independently rather than relocating to a community of older folks
- Focus on the city as our campus, taking advantage of and supporting existing urban institutions and programming rather than creating a new institution walled off from existing city amenities (FitC, 2012 and ongoing)
- Create a residential community option in a multi-generational building that shares facilities and programming with other FitC members, rather than building a residential complex just for seniors (FCC Riverfront, 2012 and ongoing)
- Help members access the long-term care and the services needed to continue to live independently (FitC PLUS, 2015 and ongoing)