cohousing for older people
From: C2pattee (
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 18:30:02 -0600 (MDT)
Just a few comments on older people in cohousing, coming from a 59 year old
single woman who wants very much to live in multigenerational community.  I
have been a foster parent for 15 years (one teenage girl at a time in
longterm placement) but have no biological children of my own.  I've loved
growing up with fifteen nieces and nephews, and am ver y attached to the kids
living next door.  I want to live out my life with children around me.  I
freely admit that I want a connection with kids, but don't want
responsibility for them 24/7 (which is why I take only older foster kids).

However, my mother, who had four kids of her own and came from a family of
ten siblings, was delighted to move into a senior citizen's-only condo
complex after my father died and the house was too big for her alone.  In
many ways, that condo was like cohousing, because although she didn't know
anyone when she moved in, she quickly became part of a friendship network of
women (widows mostly) who hung out together and took care of each other.  She
liked  the rules that restricted grandkids in the pool to certain hours and
the age limits for residents.  After all, she'd already spent a lifetime
"sharing her wisdom", i.e. taking care of her kids and husband, and now she
was ready to take it easy.

Incidentally, I consider terms like 'elderly' or 'aged' to be simply
descriptive, not ageist or pejorative, but then I'm part of a loosly
organized social group calling itself 'Crones R Us".

Christine Pattee
Greater Hartford CT Cohousing
c2pattee [at]

In a message dated 7/10/01 1:01:26 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
cohousing-l-request [at] writes:
sage: 3
From: "Katrina M. Lewis" <katrina [at]>
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:41:54 -0500
Subject: [C-L]_Fw: [C-L] cohousing for older people
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at]


Thanks for your response to my post.  Asking why there is no 'elderly
cohousing' (my understanding is that people prefer the term older because of
the ageist connotations of words like elderly or aged) or cohousing for
older people in some countries and not others is a big question.  I have no
idea what the answer is.  It could have a lot to do with the different
legislative and policy frameworks, planning regulations, availability of
private finance and level and type of government support for social housing.

I was not aware that there was no 'elderly cohousing' in the US.  I know
there is in Canada but don't have much detailed information as yet.  I do
have a report on shared equity co-operatives.

I also have a study about elderly communes in Denmark which says the people
in them prefer age segregated housing because they feel less discriminated
against and more able to be themselves.

I doubt there is one simple answer or best option for anyone as people's
needs and interests are so diverse.

My ideal is for age integrated cohousing where older people are valued and
included in community life, not discriminated against.

I'm aware of a few stories from cohousing in both Denmark and the US that
suggest age integrated cohousing has its positive aspects for both the older
members and the wider cohousing community and that indeed this is already
happening and that some communities in the US have been actively recruiting
older members.  Older people are great repositories of cultural knowledge, a
fact which tends to get lost when they live apart from extended families in
age segregated housing.

There have been discussions on the list here about issues for communities
that have a high proportion of older members.  I remember one post that I
particularly liked, said that in their community people aged over 80 were
exempt from work.

What I'm interested in learning about is not only the age segregated models
but also the issues and the benefits for communities that include older
people amongst their members.  How well does the design and management model
accommodate older age groups?  How successful is cohousing at keeping older
people happy, active and healthy compared to other forms of housing?

I remember reading something recently that said some older people in
cohousing find it necessary to move on to a higher level of care and that
when this happens the community feels the loss and that communities tend to
go to great lengths to care for their older members and to have them die 'at

Did you gather any information on this in your research?


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