Most seniors want to remain at home as long as possible, but with family often spread out all over the country, it isn’t always easy to do so. “Senior cohousing,” a new concept, allows older Americans to age at home in a supportive community.
Senior cohousing consists of a group of houses or condos that are individually owned by seniors and are clustered around a common area. The design usually includes a common house with guest rooms, a kitchen for group meals, and other common areas the residents agree on (such as a gym, media room, or art room). The residents pay a monthly maintenance fee, and meet regularly to make decisions as a group.
Cohousing can be beneficial for someone who is looking to downsize. The residents share amenities and common area maintenance costs, so expenses are reduced. The biggest benefit may be that the residents have complete control over how things are run – unlike at a continuing care retirement community, where decisions are usually ultimately up to someone else.
For instance, residents can decide whether to hire a gardener or a cook for the community, or even whether to have a nurse visit regularly.
While cohousing developments don’t usually offer full nursing care, the neighborhood becomes a community where everyone knows one another and neighbors can help out if one resident becomes sick.
There are hundreds of multi-generational cohousing communities in the United States that welcome seniors, but senior-only cohousing is new. There are currently only a few senior-only cohousing projects in the country – in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia – but others are in the works.
You can learn more about cohousing from the Cohousing Association of the United States, at www.cohousing.org.