Re: Senior's needs? (was Achieving age diversity)
From: Stuart Joseph (
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2006 08:04:01 -0800 (PST)

Andrew Netherton wrote:
On 11 Nov 2006 10:22:49 EST, Michael Whitman <Michael.Whitman [at]> 
I agree that the natural "tendency for children's needs in cohousing to trump
elder's needs" exists, as any experienced parent will confirm

As a parent of young children, I obviously understand the needs of
children.  What I'm not understanding, however, is how these needs
"trump" those of seniors.  Yes, the kids need a tot lot, a play
structure, and a kid's room in the common house.  These are admittedly
capital-intensive items to include.

So what do seniors need?  ADA-compliant bathrooms and kitchens
That is something that applies to all age groups since it is conforming to the disabled which can be children,teenagers, young adults, adults, as well as seniors. According to our engineer, the common house is mandated to be ADA Compliant in any case, at least here in the US.
still have to figure out what the equivalent is here in Canada),
Your architect should know that, as well as what needs to be done to comply.
eliminate stairs,
Not necessarily, as long as the buildings are accessible to folks with disabilities.
 add ramps, or elevators (now there's
capital-intensive!)... anything else?
Personal elevators are coming down in price and there are lower cost alternatives, such as chair-lifts, which are like mini-elevators. I have been doing research into this because I am disabled and am looking to the future with Caer Coburn, in case my condition worsens and I am totally stuck in a wheelchair. I was warned not to get one of those chairs that run along a track up a staircase. I was told that you needed to make the stairs wider to accommodate, not only the chair and mechanism, but space to allow a person to walk alongside to make sure the occupant didn't fall off the chair- which also means that you need another person to operate it safely. I was told to look into a personal elevator instead.

It is easier and cheaper to plan for and install them in new construction, which is one of the reasons that we decided to go into Caer Coburn- we could build a house to help make me self-sufficient and able to get around. the other reasons were for energy efficiency, sustainability, and community.
  The thing is, I don't see how
any of this is mutually exclusive.
You are correct.
  Am I focusing too much on
infrastructure, and missing an intangible that conflicts with
children's needs?

As we're in the VERY early stages of Laurel Creek Commons, I'd like to
make sure that LCC is equally friendly to children and seniors.  If
those with experience (personal or otherwise) can help clue me in to
what it is seniors need, and how children's need trump those needs,
I'd like to work around this at this early stage instead of waiting
until there's a conflict.
I don't think children's needs trump those of seniors- the needs of all should be taken into consideration, if you want kids in the community. One of the problems that I think some adults, and not just seniors, would be the noise factor generated by kids and teenagers- though I have lived in places where adults make as much noise as kids- they can yell and blare their music just as loudly. <grin> However, if there is a playground for the kids, I would make that known to prospective members so they can choose house lots away from that area.

I do like the idea of a kids room in the common house, possibly sound proofed, and there are co-housing groups that have also included a sound proofed music room so musicians can rehearse or play without disturbing other areas of the community. I should note that loudness is not limited to rock and roll, at the medieval Gathering we attend every year the Early Musicians form "The Loud Band," and even though there instruments are not amplified, they can be heard for quite a distance. their rehearsal tent is off by itself away from most other areas.

If you are offering already constructed homes, the other consideration is how to charge for the extra amenities that might be necessary for disabled folks or seniors. We don't have that problem since our members are responsible for designing and building their own houses, which also gives them control over the cost and how much they want to spend.
Andrew Netherton
Laurel Creek Commons (forming)
Waterloo, ON, Canada
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Stuart Joseph, 802-463-1954
Project Director
Caer Coburn, a traditional village based upon  and intentional communities
Rockingham, Vermont, USA

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