Re: cohousing for older people
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 08:59:19 -0600 (MDT)
Jan Forbes responded Mon, 9 Jul 2001, wrote (tho it was posted by Katrina

> 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 would speculate that the idea of cohousing may not have filtered down
to those that plan housing for older people in the US where the idea has
been around for 13 vs 30 years in Denmark). And that there is 
less willingness by those who do such planning to adopt new ideas.

This is premised on several things which are somewhat speculative also.

I wonder if housing for older people is less likely to be planned by
residents (even in Denmark?) and therefore more planned by traditional
organizations and intstitutions which may take longer to adopt new ideas.

When I was in Denmark in 1999 I visited one cohousing community for older
people called Gartnerhaven in Suskobing (sp?) near Maribo (on the Island
of Lolland (south of Copenhagen down by Germany).  My 78 year old cousin
knew about this community and took me there when I was visiting him after
our group tour of cohousing.

It had 8 units, seemed very 'up scale'.  I remember getting the impression
that their commonhouse was used little and thy had few (monthly?) common
meals.  The common house seemed to be used more like a senior citizen
center. The net impression I had was that it was a less cohesive community
than others we visited.  I wonder how much input the residents had on the
development of the place (tho I dont remember anything specific). I also
saw a report about Senior Cohousing ( ISBN 986536-0-1 Sept 1997) which I
browsed a little but it was in Danish...  All of my observations are
suspect - based on a brief visit of just one community, but none the less
it leads me to wonder what other differences there are in 'Senior
Cohousing' in general.

On the other hand I have learned - mostly from visiting Tinggarden
(see 'the book') that what seems less cohesive compared to other
communities can still be satisfying for the residents.  Cohousing comes in 
many varieties which makes it hard to judge individual communites.

Senior only vs mixed ages.

My impression is that some seniors prefer 'senior only' housing and some
prefer mixed ages.  Seems like there is room for both and the goal is to
match facilities to preferences so people dont find themselves in one or
the other against their preference.  I do wonder if there are more senior
only (non-cohousing) housing in the US than there are people who prefer

One interesting (sort of) senior only cohousing community that I visited
was in central Stockholm, Sweden called Fardknappen.  It was developed by
people who wanted it to be for people "in the second half of life" so it
only allows people over 40 who do not have dependants.  They get
criticized for this but I think people should be able to do what they
want.  Besides they have kids - visiting grand children who go home at


Fred H. Olson  fholson [at]    Minneapolis,MN   55411
(612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM          List manager of:
Cohousing-L and Nbhd-tc (Twin Cities Neighborhood issues list)
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