Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director
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!