KU Program focuses on New Cities initiative and Boomers

For the past four years Professor Dennis Domer has directed a program focused on designing communities for multi-generational populations

Now in its fourth year, New Cities initiative at the University of Kansas has investigated what kind of post career housing and communities the Baby Boomers would prefer if they were to move from their current residences to a new place.  The vast majority of Boomers want to age in place where they now live.  That, however, is not a realistic scenario for many of them, we have learned.  Through a series of courses and seminars at the University of Kansas, visiting authorities on aging, technology, law, architecture, design, psychology, sociology, gerontology, engineering, social welfare, nursing, and other fields, as well as participating faculty from the University of Missouri, Kansas State University, St. Louis University, Washington University, University of Missouri, Kansas City, the KU Medical Center, Rockhurst University, and Washburn University, New Cities programs and research reveal what Boomers value and what they might do if they moved and had choices.

The Boomers are a gigantic and very diverse generation but and most of them want to be close to nature. They want cities where they can live within walking distance of core services. They don’t want to be segregated by age.  They need to feel secure.  They want to be close to their children, grandchildren, and friends.  They want a learning community.  They seek health and well-being.  They want good transportation and affordable housing with plenty of choices.  The weather is not as important to them as the climate of the place.  They want to serve their community and mentor youth.  Many want encore careers.  They want a progressive architecture with barrier free design.  they are technologically savvy and want to take advantage of technology to help them and their families live well.  They support sustainable communities.  They don’t want to be a burden on younger generations.  Their greatest fear is the “nursing home.”  In short, they want to lead a meaningful life, which is going to be significantly longer on average than any generation before them.

With one foot in a dream world and one foot in the real world, New Cities has reached out to Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, and cities and universities in Kansas-Missouri region to re-create a model of intergenerational living that unraveled with the invention of the nuclear family.

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