Re: Seniors in Cohousing?
From: 'Judith Wisdom (wisdompobox.upenn.edu)
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 04:31:38 -0600
I agree with others' observations that seniors have much to gain from 
cohousing and was glad to see the post (forgive me for not attributing, 
as I didn't copy it) that they are viewed as having much to give.

The issue this touches on is related to the one I periodically bring 
up--those of us felled by illness and not fully able bodied and vigorous.

As with the seniors, coho has much, much to offer us.  However, though 
younger, there are seniors who could do more physical labor than I can.  
I can do office work; I could tutor; I could write; I could do 
computering; I could offer words of reason; I could even be a mellowing 
bright light, something that has come from dealing with adversity.

BUT and this is a biggie.  What happens when EVERYONE, non-seniors and 
seniors get infirm and can do less?  The community has to be able to go 
on with those members without throwing them out.  In other words, I think 
coho must not be set up to require universal or even near universal 
able-bodieness.  Folks, I declined physically before my time in terms of 
functioning but you will decline probably or at least some of you 
ultimately and your neighborhood needs to be self-sufficient without your 
complete vigor.

Maybe it has to do with the stage of the coho.  With early years 
requiring everyone to be strong and healthy but latter being able to 
absorb some of us who are not.

But even in early stages, while I don't want to be the voice of gloom and 
doom, people get sick.  Sometimes badly sick.  And communities must be 
constructed socially and even physically to allow them to function on 
their own and even provide them some support.  I'm not talking nursing 
home.  I live independently in a not very friendly environment.  In a 
friendly environment I'd do much much better.  But not if I had to do 
physical labor.  And not if my neighbors wouldn't substitute for my 
current friends on the few occasions I need someone to pick up something 
for me I can't get, etc.

Seniorness and illness/disability overlap greatly.  With the natural 
statistical course of life.

Coho, if vitally recognizing not running from life, must consider that.  
I think.

Judith Wisdom  wisdom [at] pobox.upenn.edu

P.S. Someone wrote me privately that my comments on Philadelphia's 
inhospitable attitude towards coho suggested it's time to leave.  That 
was an over-read.  Philly has many attractive qualities.  But it's 
negative ones make (I think) coho harder to establish.  As for leaving, 
when you're not well you might want to, but you have to have somewhere to 
go that would allow for the replication of a support system, however 
thin, that would allow you to live independently.  I know of none now.

If well, I might leave but I don't have that option as I see it.

Whenever anyone is interested and ready I'd be glad to describe what a 
cohousing community would need to consider and offer to allow people in 
my shoes to live their independently.

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