• By Elise Amanor, Intern.

    For decades, due to numerous economic factors, many elders have been moved out of their homes and their communities and sent to nursing homes and retirement homes.

    Moving is known to be one of the most stressful experiences for people. The physical act itself stressful and costly, not to mention the emotional stress that comes with moving.  There are many emotional ties which bind us to a location. Being forced to move can cause not only stress but depression, especially in older adults.

    For elders who wish to age in place and communities that wish to support that choice, co-housing may be a new beacon of hope.

    So what is co-housing?

    Co-housing is a type of collaborative housing in which the residents are active participants in the operation of their neighborhoods.  The model originated in Denmark and is spreading worldwide.

    Co-housing units tend to be attached or two family homes that are adapted for a communal living experience.  The sense of belonging in a community where neighbors know each others’ names and care about each others’ well being.  The physical design allows the residents of the community to have their own individual space but with shared community spaces as well, which can include a laundry room, community garden, hall, game room etc.

    What makes co-housing so unique is that the co-housing residents are active participants in the well-being of their neighbors as well as the community itself, and to that end they ensure that everything is maintained well. Nothing beats having nice nosy neighbors. I like nosy neighbors because they act as added security – if they don’t see you for awhile, you know that they will inquire about your whereabouts. This is especially important for older adults.

    Co-housing can be a great way of allowing seniors to age in place as well as fostering better inter-generational relationships. Many seniors are retired and have very limited sources of income, and difficulty maintaining the upkeep of their houses or buildings. This is where inter-generational co-housing can be of great use. Since the main goal of co-housing is to foster a sense of community and trust while minimizing the economical/financial strain on its residents, the younger members of the community can help with the maintenance and other tasks that seniors are no longer able to do.

    There is also an advantage for co-housing members who have young children, as many seniors are willing to act as surrogate grandparents/babysitters.

    Based on my experience, I know that seniors enjoy spending time and interacting with children as well as people of all different ages. They have a lot to offer such as advice, great stories, companionship as well as great recipes and remedies. Co-housing is an alternative that should be explored it provides a safer and sustainable way of life.

    Would you feel comfortable having a relative residing in a co-housing community? Should they be seniors only or should they be inter-generational  In the meantime here are a few resources, blogs and videos about co-housing for you to peruse at your leisure.

    CoHousing Partners

    The Cohousing Association of the United States
    Cambridge Cohousing
    Cohousing breaks ground
    Cohousing Video
    New York Cohousing Directory
    Senior Cohousing
    Living together, aging together
    Elder Cohousing; New option
    Nice Nosy Neighbors and Cohousing


    This entry was posted on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at 8:11 pm and is filed under Policy & Business, Stories & Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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