RE: cohousing for older people
From: Forbes Jan (
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 07:46:16 -0600 (MDT)
Thanks for this Christine.  I've printed it out for future reference.  

Like you I prefer intergenerational communities where there are kids around.
It sounds like your mother had that where she lived, with the grandkids.

Terms like aged and elderly are only perjorative if we see them that way.
The more positive we feel about being older ourselves the less unpleasant
the connotations.  And the research shows that older people tend to be
happier and enjoy life more than when they were younger.  In a recent
population survey done here in Tasmania called the Healthy Communities
Survey retired people reported a higher quality of life and higher
satisfaction with life than younger people.

Have you seen the Gergens' Positive Aging web site?  It's a US site.
Inspiring stuff.

How many older people are there in your community?  

Can you tell me more about Crones R Us?  How many from inside or outside
your cohousing group?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: C2pattee [at] [SMTP:C2pattee [at]]
> Sent: Wednesday, 11 July 2001 10:29
> To:   cohousing-l [at]
> Subject:      [C-L]_cohousing for older people
> 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] 
>       Katrina 
>       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 
>       home'. 
>       Did you gather any information on this in your research? 
>       Jan 
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