Growing old together
Once upon a time there were really only three viable housing options for seniors: either they aged in place alone in their own homes, they moved in with an adult child or other younger relative, or they went into a retirement home. All of these are still wonderful places to spend your golden years, each with their own unique benefits, but lately there’s been talk of a fourth way to go.
Some Boomers, a generation that has always been known for its trendsetting ways and love of innovative solutions, are choosing to forgo those more traditional retirement accommodations in favor of setting up co-housing communities they’ve created themselves. Think of it as a modern-day take on The Golden Girls.
According to MarketWatch1 these retirement communes are set up on a shared piece of privately owned land. Residents, usually close friends, build the homes and manage their little community on their own. How these communities are set up is completely up to the individuals who choose to participate. In some cases the commune includes several individual homes, in other cases it’s a large common house with individual rooms and shared dining and recreation areas.
Benefits of retirement communes
The benefits are obvious, particularly when it comes to social interaction. As we age and retire out of the workforce, our circle of interaction naturally becomes smaller. Children grow and leave the house, and we are left to our own devices. Choosing to spend your retirement years living with (or very near) other like-minded friends allows you to stay connected and active in a community you enjoy.
In fact, by necessity co-housing retirement communes are incredible social. Since they are privately owned and run by their residents, not by an outside organization, there are always lots of decisions to be made and plenty of work to be done.
Another important benefit is that residents are able to co-care for each other as needed. If an illness has one person in the commune down for the count, others can step in and offer support and physical care so it’s not left to just one caregiver – many hands make light work, after all. If and when the time comes that one resident needs professional care, that can be worked into the plan too. In fact, some co-housing communities plan for this eventuality by ensuring that there is accommodation on site for a nurse or other outside caregiver if and when it’s needed.
This revolutionary new retirement community model is a way for seniors to maintain as much independence and control over their lives as possible. It’s an empowering way to ensure that your senior years are as happy, healthy, social, and active as you’ve always hoped they’d be.
How to plan your own retirement commune
If co-housing in a custom-designed neighborhood is something you and a group of like-minded friends have thought about, there are resources popping up online to help you plan for your very own community:
- Canadian Senior Cohousing
- Canadian Cohousing Network
- Senior Cohousing (US)
- Our House: An Introduction to CoHousing – a video about Threshold Centre cohousing community project in England.
413187H CAN/US (01/16)