Aging in Cohousing – Why is this a Good Choice?

Being interviewed by two reporters in two days about “senior cohousing” is an indication that aging in cohousing is receiving more attention. And this is good, since we know how beneficial cohousing is to life quality, and can be a particularly good choice for older adults. Here are some of the benefits I identified during my interviews, most of which can apply to anyone living in cohousing. However, these in particular address the unique circumstances that seniors can face:

•Cohousing provides a sense of belonging – of caring and being cared about – which is so necessary for most of us, and for seniors in particular, since our culture tends to marginalize aging adults.

•Cohousing provides a sense of purpose and meaning in collaboratively managing a community. While continuing care retirement communities can be a good choice for some, others resist following rules and being managed. Seniors who have raised families, achieved successful careers, and been involved in civic affairs may want to continue to take charge of their remaining years with the highest quality of life possible.

•Cohousing allows seniors to attend to their emotional well-being, especially when their children have moved away, their partners have passed on, and friends have died.

•Cohousing allows seniors not to be a burden to their children, especially in today’s world where daughters work as well as sons, family members may live far away, and there are fewer children to share caring.

•Cohousing can provide economic advantages over other retirement care. Smaller, more energy-efficient, well-designed homes translate to lower cost of living expenses. So does sharing resources. A strong social environment may contribute to better health and lower medical costs. And cooperatively hiring outside caregivers may be far more cost efficient.

•Cohousing allows seniors to help create their own community to meet their own needs, with other generations who appreciate their circumstances, or in senior cohousing, to live with others who share a common bond of age and experience.

•Cohousing provides a vastly more sustainable model than many current options for retirement living, which often are socially inadequate, not health supporting, and a financial drain.

•Cohousing provides an excellent choice for seniors to house themselves with dignity, independence, safety, mutual concern – and fun!

I would welcome hearing from our senior cohousers. You may have other rationale for living in cohousing, or may enjoy other aspects that I haven’t recognized. Provide a blog comment or email alicecohous [at] gmail [dot] com. Many thanks!

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Aging Successfully 2014 - Creating Senior Cohousing

Thanks for your insights into the advantages of cohousing for seniors. Some seniors, myself included, love the diversity of an intergenerational cohousing community. I am so thrilled to have active kids growing up next to me, yet I'm able to shut my door when I want to! However, there is also a growing place for senior cohousing. Senior Cohousing Communities are cropping up in urban centers, rural and suburban settings, and we at McCamant and Durrett Architects/The Cohousing Company are encouraging Senior Cohousing communities in University towns. Anywhere an active elder might want to live is a good place for a Senior Coousing Community, with all the built-in advantages you mentioned for aging-in-place.
As you are aware, there is a recent trend of "University-Based Community Development" as 70+ million "Baby Boomers" reach their golden years. Many of them are returning and "retiring" to College Towns with Friends & Family, some are even bringing their business interests with them. When retiring alumni return to college towns, it results in an intergenerational exchange that will significantly enhance the quality of life in the college community. This creates a beneficial exchange for students, alumni, their families and friends, and ultimately society at large.
Wherever you may be interested in creating Senior Cohousing, McCamant and Durrett, The Cohousing Company and Sage Cohousing Advocates are here to help. Please consider attending our Study Group 1 - Creating Senior Cohousing October 6-10 here in Nevada City, CA.
This 5-day instructional workshop combines experiential learning on the issues of aging and how to create a supportive community, along with the details and logistics of cohousing development. We will bring together professionals from a myriad of fields involved in cohousing and senior cohousing in North America, including: financing, policy leaders, developers, architects, community organizers, social advocates, and others who are interested in facilitating workshops to help seniors discover the difficult realities and beneficial possibilities of aging-in-place with cohousing.
Come join us for Aging Successfully 2014 this October 6 – 10, 2014. You can be instrumental in creating the vibrant small town community life that today’s seniors truly want, and need right now. For more informationand to register, go to http://www.cohousingco.com/category/workshops/ Registration discount offerred through August 15.