Opinion: NORCs have potential to improve health and wellness for all ages

There are few things more satisfying than seeing young people and older adults interacting with each other and building an effortless sense of community and belonging.  Robust communities include all ages. But such spaces need help to develop and thrive.

Global Intergenerational Week, a celebration of the power of bringing together younger and older people for the benefit of all, has completed its third year.  Started in Scotland, this positive initiative has spread worldwide, and we are part of it here in Canada.

Intergenerational connections lead to the creation of empathy, and in doing so, reduce loneliness, for both young and old, and address ageism that is so harmful to health and well-being.

We need to foster more intergenerational connections across the country.

We already have spaces where older and younger generations live together. They are called Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). NORCS are geographic areas — generally apartment buildings or condominiums — where at least 30 per cent of residents are older adults, mostly women.

In Ontario, there are approximately 2,000 such buildings, and in Toronto alone, there are 489 NORCs.

More older adults live in NORCs than in retirement and long-term care homes combined, making NORCs an important yet largely ignored opportunity to create age inclusive communities that support healthy aging at home.

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