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UF professor: Living choices need new terms for aging baby boomers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Nursing home and assisted living are yesterday's news at least as far as baby boomers are concerned. For that still-youth-conscious group, think "DOUERs," "PERCs" and "elder parks," says a University of Florida researcher.

The first wave of boomers, who have benefited from the fitness craze and are typically healthier than their more-frail elders, have a different vision about where they want to live as they approach retirement age in huge numbers, said Stephen Golant, a UF geography professor and national authority on housing for the aging.

"Very little attention has been paid to the younger and more active older-adult population for most of the past decade," said Golant, who was a consultant to the Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century, appointed by Congress to study in 2001-02 the housing and long-term care needs of older Americans. "Instead, the dominant emphasis has been on the frail and vulnerable elders, who have to deal with declines in their abilities to live independently and who sometimes require group housing options, such as congregate living, assisted living and continuing care communities."

Golant has coined the term DOUERs, pronounced dooers, for deliberately occupied but unplanned elder residences, to describe the growing number of townhouses, apartment buildings, subdivisions, neighborhoods, towns, communities and even small cities that are attracting an increasing share of older Americans.

"We need a new language to describe where older people live that reflects the much more positive image older people have of themselves even those with chronic health problems and physical impairments," he said.

He gives the name PERCs to planned elder residential complexes that encompass active adult retirement communities with congregate housing and assisted living communities. Elder parks refer to large residential enclaves of older adults that are attra
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Contact: Stephen Golant
golant@geog.ufl.edu
352-392-0494
University of Florida
19-Feb-2004


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