Aging Gracefully: Sharing Experiences in InterGenerational Cohousing (Breakout Session)

Presented by David Entin, Rocky Hill Cohousing

Session Description

Jeff Zucker, Manzanita Village (Prescott AZ)
Ronnie Rosenbaum, Harmony Village (Golden CO)
Carol Rinehart, Rocky Hill Cohousing (Northhampton MA)
John Rymers, Highline Crossing (Littleton CO)

What are the challenges and opportunities for seniors living in intergenerational cohousing? We will feature seniors living in intergenerational cohousing sharing their experiences: what they like and don’t like about living with children and adults of all ages, how seniors are treated in their community, what they see as advantages and disadvantages, how seniors contribute to cohousing communities, opportunities for caring and being cared for, and how living in an intergenerational cohousing community is different from living outside an intentional community. Each panelists will briefly talk about their personal experiences, then will open up to sharing experiences from audience members as well as questions for the panelists. We will be learning from each other!

David Entin, a member of Rocky Hill Cohousing (Northhampton MA), will facilitate this discussion. David has an interesting perspective from his community:

Our intergenerational (many families with children) cohousing community of ten years, Rocky Hill Cohousing, Northampton, MA, has had an “Aging Gracefully” group of a dozen strong meeting monthly for the past two years. The group ranges from 60 to 80 in age. We enjoyed our company so much that we soon added a potluck dinner before our Friday monthly meetings. Over this time we have explored a range of issues of concern, including health care proxies, wills, dying, local resources we might need to draw on (or create) for being able to remain at home, and ways to support each other as we age. Our group has read and discussed Atul Gawande’s "Being Mortal" and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s "Why I Hope to Due at 75." This fall we hosted a conversation on aging in community attended by people from six area cohousing communities, existing and forming.

Most significantly, our group has really bonded, particularly because at each meeting we “check in,” i.e., share individually what has been going on in our lives. Each of us really looks forward to the camaraderie and sharing of our meetings. The bottom line is getting to know each other deeply, coming to appreciate the remarkable diversity of life perspectives, and drawing inspiration from one another. We feel this is aging in community at its best. No one can predict their future needs, but community is making it possible to be more hopeful, creative, and generous.

About the Presenter

David Entin lives at Rocky Hill Cohousing, Northampton, MA, one of its original occupants since 2005. David served on the board of Coho/US for four years and was active in research on cohousing. He retired in 2006 from his position as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College. His first career was in anti-poverty and community development work and his second in higher education administration.