Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Roman Empire provided planned healthful communities for retired veterans

Brief but interesting reference to the Roman Empire's planned retirement communities:

"he rulers and managers of the Roman Empire were among the first to consider what went into making a retirement village, community or home a successful endeavor. According to an article written for Aging Today magazine by Robert Chellis and Susan Correa Silva, they had very progressive ideas about what should be included in such a venture.

When legions of Roman warriors had been posted in a far-away land for 25 or so years and had completed their service, they were often encouraged by their officers to stay where they were instead of trying to return to live in the capital. The rulers of the empire hoped to cut down on the number of military returnees, both to extend colonial control and to relieve social pressure on Rome by reducing the number of returning, unemployed veterans.

One answer to the problem was a Roman retirement colony in what is now the Moroccan desert. Built some 2,000 years ago for retirees of the 16th Legion, which had been posted in North Africa for 25 years, it was one of many retirement colonies built in the far reaches of the Roman Empire.

These colonies were fully realized cities with paved streets, an amphitheater and a large civic forum, as well as considerable public art and baths. Although they didn’t contain what we might refer to as nursing homes, they did have well-developed and quite sophisticated hospitals available to all as a public health measure. Physicians were assigned staff positions at the lavish public baths to ensure general good health, and most retirement towns had people trained to prescribe reasonable regimes based on exercise and/or diet."