RE: Re: Aging In Place In Cohousing
From: Alexander Robin A (
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 07:07:41 -0700 (PDT)
Having an ill spouse, I have seen more of the medical system than I would have 
cared to and I agree that it is badly broken. On the societal end, the reason 
we are in such trouble with elder care is that our culture has devolved into 
one with little true community. Cohousing is one of the most promising trends 
to rectify the problems stemming from a society where people are so isolated 
from each other. 
Yet even in cohousing there are problems due to people having busy lives and 
limited resources of time, money and energy. In the cohousing where we lived 
for 3 years, we got a lot of support and help when my spouse had the most need, 
but through natural evolution that particular community evolved to be largely a 
younger kid based one and all of us older folks either moved out or are 
planning to move out. 
I, too, prefer an intergenerational mix. I suppose to serve as a place where 
elders can live at home as long as possible, providing reasonable care for them 
would have to be an explicitly stated part of the community's mission.
Robin Alexander


From: Martin Sheehy [mailto:martinsheehy [at]]
Sent: Thu 4/6/2006 1:00 PM
To: Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Re: Aging In Place In Cohousing

This is the subject closest to my heart---' aging in place', ' elderCoHousing ' 
and related issues.
  I think, as a physician executive, that the American healthcare ' system ' in 
no way shape or form should be ALLOWED to take care of us in our old age. The 
conventional Medical system fails at every level---from infancy to death. I, 
for one, do not want their pricey, ineffecient " care " during my last years.
  Better, like here, we admit this, and discuss alternatives.

Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:
  Caren Albercook started this thread and revived it with several
additional messages.

As list manager I congratulate you, Caren, on keeping the topic alive till
others got around to responding. I think aging and intergenerational
cohousing needs much more discussion. From observing the list for 12+
years I've concluded messages do and do not get responses for a variety of
reasons - timing , what else is being discussed, whether the topic lends
itself to concise replies etc. It is abundantly clear that activity
breeds activity. From time to time the list has no messages for a day or
more but when someone posts something, a flurry of messages get posted.
I've long wanted to conspire to get a number of messages posted on a topic
to see if it would generate more activity. Never gotten around to doing
it though.

On the topic of Aging In Place In Cohousing, it seems to me unrealistic
for all people stay in cohousing to the bitter end. Sometimes people's
care needs simply exceed what can be provided non-professionally.
But the support of the community can often postpone moving to more
specialized facilities a long time.

A few weeks ago Dr Bill Thomas was in town talking about his
endeavor to harness community to make aging in place more workable.
He calls these communities "Eldershire" See the links in the message
for details. Eldershire communities are essentially like cohousing
tho with more organized support for getting them built. His formal
presentation here included a graph-like illustration showing his estimate
of how much aid that elders could get from their community rather than
from medical and social service agencies and the resulting prolonged
period elders could stay in their homes. On average people with community
support can stay in their homes much longer. If a large proportion of the
population had community support, it could considerably reduce the
pressure on our medical and social service system.

Thomas comes to these conclusions based on his estimate as a gerontoligist
that the current medical system will be able to handle our aging

I think it remains to be seen how viable community results from this "if
you build it they will come" approach. But I think he is sensitive to the

He has previously written making nursing homes more humane in his book
_The Eden Alternative_ and can draw big audiences. He sees most nursing
homes as a failed experiment over the last 40 years.

I think he and the cohosuing movement have much to learn from each other.
He says his motivation is that the current system for care of people in
this country is broken and a more community based approach is the only way
he sees of dealing with our aging population. He sees cohousing as
necessarily becoming widespread to deal with aging.

Interestingly Eldershire communities seem like they will be more
intergenerational than "Senior Cohousing" tho he uses the term "senior
rich". I personally prefer intergenerational communites. Some observers
of intergenerational ("regular") cohousing in the US have however told me
that they often see the needs of children trumping the needs of elders in
many communities. I think this should change. The needs of both should
be considered seriously. Hey we are all going to get old.
Intergenerational communities would seem to have proportionately more
resources to offer aging members without being overwhelmed compared to
"senior" cohousing made up of all older people.

Fred, who'll be 59 next month

Fred H. Olson Minneapolis,MN 55411 USA (near north Mpls)
Communications for Justice - My new listserv org. UU, Linux
My Link Page: Ham radio:WB0YQM
fholson at 612-588-9532 (7am-10pm Central time)

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