Re: questions re: senior cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 04:43:49 -0800 (PST)

On Mar 16, 2005, at 2:42 AM, Duncan Cavens wrote:

I realize, that as a cohouser in their late 20s, I might not be able to fully grasp this, but I'm at a loss to figure out what the attaction is (personally, I'd feel the same about a community containing only my age group).

I can't imagine living in any community that is all one age group either but there are some days when I think it would be nice. It's basically related to stages of adult development:

1. It's nice to have people around who remember the same cultural references. I'm 62 and people in their 30s do not remember or only read about things in books that I experienced. It not only makes me feel lonely sometimes but is irritating because I have to try to explain unless I just want to be lonely.

2. Peace and quiet and simplicity. Because there are children around (which I love) we also can't do many things that I would like to do -- leave beer in the commonhouse fridge, have dinners that are adults only, show films that are not PC (not necessarily X-rated but not quite what you want the 8 year olds to wander into). We could do all these things now but it would feel as if we were excluding people.

3. Each age group is on a different daily (and yearly) schedule. At this point I've spent my whole life figuring out what will happen to the kids on snow days and teacher's conference days and when they have a cold. It would sort of be nice to not think about that for a few years.

Meetings -- it would be nice not to have to work around so many schedules when we need to set up a meeting. We are having an afternoon meeting during the week this week for the first time in I don't remember when. Everyone just happens to be over 50 and have the freedom to do that. At 50 you become much more in charge of your own life.

Dinner -- it would be nice to have earlier more leisurely dinners but if the community includes the 30-40s who are still career driven, it just isn't possible. They get home too late.

4. Re-experiencing all the stage of life again and again can be tiring. Although it feels good to feel like an expert sometimes it gets old to go through toilet training again and again, parents looking for jobs again, babies dying, divorces, lovers and lovers and lovers leading to drama and despair, twenty-somethings trying to decide what to do with their lives, teens facing college decisions. In community there is so much of this it can get overwhelming.

All of these things can be inspiring and exhilarating but from the older perspective they can also be same old, same old. I have also worked very hard to have a certain amount of freedom in my life now so I want to enjoy it. I feel guilty saying no when parents need a child taken care of or someone "who is home all day" to meet with the washing machine repair person again because I remember how hard it was to have a full time job and two kids and cars that break down and husbands with ADD and impossible schools and horrible bosses and you don't have any clean clothes. But I also have other agendas that I want to complete before I die -- books can now get written and crafts projects done.

Time is precious now. It has a finite quality. I am aware everyday that life has an end. I can count the years. Even the days get shorter because I get tired more easily and don't recover as fast. I can't work 24 hours straight anymore and if I work full out for several days, I have to take a day or two to veg to recover.

Re-experiencing all the traumas of life! Sometimes, I just want to stop. On those days, senior housing would be very nice. Everyone over 50. For those of you who remember "don't trust anyone over 30," I sometimes feel the reverse now.

The peach and quiet, the humor of self-acceptance, the slower pace -- it sounds wonderful. On some days.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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