Naturally occurring retirement community; an apartment building or neighborhood where most of the residents have grown old.
Example Citation:
One in four retirees lives in a place where at least half of the residents are older than 60. Contrast that with 6 percent who reside in golden-year nirvanas like Leisure World. Seniors are just like other generations, says University of Wisconsin-Madison Prof. Michael Hunt. They want to be with their peers, "but they also want to be part of the larger community, without the stigma" of being labeled old. Hunt coined the term NORC in the 1980s after surveying Madison apartments where the bulk of residents topped 60.
— Joellen Perry, "For most, there's no place like home," U.S. News & World Report, June 4, 2001
Earliest Citation:
NORC: Acronym for "naturally occurring retirement community," a building, neighborhood or complex that becomes attractive to older people because the neighborhood is benign and services are readily available.
— Sandy Rovner, "Age-Speak 101," The Washington Post, April 14, 1987
NORCs are "naturally occuring" because many people prefer to age in place, a bit of sociology-speak that means continuing to live in your home as you grow old rather than moving to a seniors residence, nursing home, or your kid's basement. For example, according to a 2001 survey by the American Society of Interior Designers (of all people), approximately 70 percent of folks 55 or older said they were "extremely likely" to stay in their current home. In a 2000 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons, 89 percent of respondents 55 or older said they would prefer to stay in their current residence for as long as possible. If you get enough of these stay-puts (as they're called) in the same neighborhood, a retirement community will naturally occur.
In some cities (such as New York and Chicago) NORC is an official designation and these communities receive funding for nursing visits, social activities, transportation, and other senior services:
Niehl, who lives in a North Side NORC building, was happy to get some help from the program. "No one had done anything for seniors here," he said. Now on Mondays, a social worker and nurse visit the building. On Wednesdays, seniors have aerobics classes. Thursday is yoga. And Friday is reserved for bingo.
— Jane Adler, "Housing links up with social services," Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2002
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