RE: Cohousing for Seniors
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Tue, 31 May 94 09:58 CDT
Peter J Rotton asks: Comments concerning the following would be useful:

3) Does this really work for seniors?

Sharingwood was founded by a senior and of the first five people to 
join, 3  were seniors.  Sharingwood could have easily become a seniors 
community but it was realized by the founders that they did not want 
this sort of lifestyle.  In particular they wanted a strong mixture of 
people and so when I and several other thirtysomethings with kids 
inquired many years ago we were skeptical because there was no one 
supporting kids at the time.

One of the things which has been very wonderful for us is the balance 
we have now. About a third of our population is over 65.   The 
grandmother types have all the kids they want, whenever they want.  As 
a community we help out seniors with chores and other physical labor 
needed and often the seniors have helped out with financial help.

One of our members does housekeeping as a business and a couple of the 
seniors are clients so they get household chores done.  Community 
dinner is a real boon and our system allows people to eat without 
having to cook which has worked well for one of the elder bachelors 
(Mel 89 years young).

Some of the older kids get hired out to do garden work and painting and 
the like and also the younger kids have developed special 
relationships. My two year old spends two hours every Tuesday with 
"grandma Rosemary" and my five year old gets chess lessons, cooking 
lessons, art opportunities and paper airplane sessions from the retired 
folks in our community.

The seniors in our community are  financially and physically 
independent.  Since buy in costs for custom homes runs $150,000 and up 
we don't have any low income folks, although our two rental spaces 
could be used by such.  We supported one of our seniors when she fell 
and broke her leg by doing meals and chores and such until she could 
get around, although family members helped her a lot also.  I don't 
think we could provide full physical care on a volunteer basis for an 
elder but we have talked about elder care as a home business and I know 
several people on the phase II task force are interested in making that 
happen in the next phase of our development.

In conversations I have had with our elders could say  that they would 
all NOT want to live in a "seniors community" but would rather be 
integrated with the babies and young adults and everyone else.  The 
real strength of cohousing is that they can be as social as they 
choose, and always have the security of people who will look after them.

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