Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities are areas of town with a higher than usual density of older adults. By becoming a NORC, residents of these communities are able to participate in social, health, and educational programs, as well as receive vouchers and reduced costs for transportation, hearing aids, and glasses.
The major benefit of having NORCs in a community is that they allow seniors to age in their homes. Not only is this more pleasant for the seniors, but it also saves taxpayer money since these individuals are not placed in state nursing home care.
The goal of the Georgia Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) Initiative is to help support older adults in the community so they can remain in their homes for as long as possible and avoid premature institutionalization. The project is based on a community-level intervention designed to reduce service fragmentation and create healthy, integrated communities.
It's no secret: Our population is aging. With so many baby boomers in their mid-50's, the older adult population in the Atlanta region is expected to double by 2015.
In the face of a rapidly expanding senior population, diminishing public and private resources and the rising costs of long-term care, it is more important than ever to create viable alternatives to institutional care. Research shows that 91 percent of the older adults plan to "age in place," that is, remain in their homes as they grow older. As a result, older adults are living in buildings (vertical NORCs) and neighborhoods (horizontal NORCs) where people over 60 are a majority. They didn't move there to be with other older adults; these places just came to be. Thus, NORCs or Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities is a demographic term used to describe a community not originally built for seniors that now has a significant proportion of its residents who are seniors. Today, there are over 50 NORCs in the state of New York. Outside New York, there are 24 states that have developing NORC sites.
The population density of older adults in NORCs presents an ideal opportunity for the community to design tailored programs that enable older adults to live in their homes for as long as possible. Thus, NORC is also a model to organize and develop services and programs to help seniors successfully age in place.
Watch the video above to hear how Middle School students are helping seniors through the Ardsley Park NORC’s Summer Angels Program. This intergenerational program has served over 100 seniors by delivering meals to homebound seniors, by providing companionship and assistance with yard work, and by assisting with client programming at the NORC site’s adult day center.
See NORC in action with commentary from Steve Rakitt, President of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
In Georgia, communities are implementing the NORC model by...
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta serves as the umbrella organization, providing overall coordination across all the NORC sites. We also assist with fundraising and advocacy by leveraging public dollars with private funds and in-kind support. In addition, JFGA also provides assistance with overall marketing. We help to improve awareness of the NORC initiative and older adult issues. Evaluation is another important role for JFGA. We believe that we are doing a good job but want to know if we’re doing it well. We measure impact factors like whether participants experience decreased isolation and greater access to needed resources. We created a NORC Advisory Council comprised of volunteer leaders with expertise in the aging field. The group provides oversight for the NORC Initiative and makes decisions on how best to utilize the available dollars (government, Federation and foundation), which impact each NORC site.
JFGA does not provide direct services but rather subcontracts with a lead agency at each site. The lead agency coordinates the site’s efforts, provides direct services and finds additional partners to enhance service delivery. In addition to delivering services, lead agencies are collaborative, and have a track record for innovation.
Our partners are traditional aging service providers & non-traditional entities such as businesses, civic organizations, schools and universities. These partners help to leverage resources, create new ways of serving seniors and improve overall service delivery.
The seniors we serve are also partners. NORC programs are consumer-driven and based on survey and focus group results. A Senior Advisory Council at each site gives older adults a voice in the planning process. NORC is unique in Georgia in that it especially targets those seniors with an income level in that “gray area.” These are seniors who are unable to afford to purchase services but are not income-eligible for government aid.
As the central planning body for Atlanta’s Jewish community, JFGA’s Aging Task Force was looking for innovative ways to meet the needs of a growing senior population. This Task Force had already expanded senior transportation and created a single point of entry to aging services in the Jewish Community – Jewish Elder Access.
We knew that the Jewish older adult population was growing faster than the general population and learned of NY’s success in developing a NORC services model. Our research led us in the direction of piloting a NORC in the Atlanta Jewish community with seed money from the JFGA annual campaign. At the same time, the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of the Jewish Federations, decided to advocate for federal funding (earmarks) to implement NORC demonstration projects nationally.
In 2003, all of these factors created a perfect storm when $100,000 became available from the federal government for us to jumpstart a NORC model in Georgia. With these dollars, along with JFGA funding, we reached out beyond the Jewish community to partner in this effort. This funding was used to develop NORC sites in Toco Hills and East Point.
JFGA chose Toco Hills because it had a high percentage of Jewish older adults age 85 and over with low to moderate income. Also, one of our affiliates, Jewish Family & Career Services, was already serving seniors in that area and was ready to move forward.
East Point became the second site because of an opportunity for us to partner with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). The ARC had just become the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson grant for the Aging Atlanta Project. The NORC Initiative seemed like a nice fit for the ARC’s project goals.
The East Point site was especially of interest because it had a large population of African-American older adults who were living below the poverty line. These two sites provided diverse populations to see how the NORC model would look in different communities.
With this new partnership with the ARC, JFGA was able to leverage resources with our own funds in the Toco Hills site, and with Robert Wood Johnson funding and in-kind support from the ARC at the East Point site. At both sites, there were federal dollars and private foundation funds.
Members of the Meyer Balser NORC, which was established in 2006, enjoy unlimited classes for things like Computers, Tai Chi, Knitting, Clay, Art, and more. Read more >>
The Marian Road NORC is a partnership between the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Atlanta Housing Authority. Read more >>
The Toco Hills NORC, which is home to 2,097 seniors, is collaboration between the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and Jewish Family & Career Services. Read more >>
The East Point NORC includes a large population of seniors over the age of 60 living in their homes for more than 30 years. Read more >>
The Candler County NORC, which began providing services in rural south Georgia in 2008, is a collaborative effort between 22 community partners. Read more >>
The Ardsley Park NORC, located in Savannah works in conjunction with community organizations to provide programs for the seniors members. Read more >>