Re: co-care agreements?
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:12:55 -0800 (PST)
Muriel wrote:
This topic is bringing up an unresolved issue for me about the goal of
helping cohousers age in place. Does it make sense to plan on staying
longer in your home, with whatever kind of assistance, past the point when
you can "do" cohousing except in a social sense, receiving visits and
perhaps getting some kinds of assistance from your neighbors that you can't
reciprocate? How many such residents can a community sustain?

That last sentence is the key question: How many non-working members can a given community sustain in the long term? This is partially a function of community size - my community of 30 households can hold more than a community of 12 - but lots of other factors come into play.

I've often discouraged potential cohousers who seem too focused on all the things they think they will GET from cohousing but don't seem to realize that they will also be expected to GIVE. Similarly, as our communities age, we can't assume that turnover will take care of our needs - we can't just expect that we'll naturally attract loads of younger, more energetic new neighbors who will be thrilled to pick up all the work that we can't do anymore...especially when they don't have the longterm relationships the previous members do.

Some time ago Laird Schaub wrote an essay about his community, Sandhill, eventually deciding not to add anymore new members over a certain age, as they were becoming too "top heavy" demographically. They just coulnd't for the longterm continue to do the physical work that they do with the bodies available. (Sandhill is an income-sharing agricultural commune, very different than cohousing, but the idea still applies - especially in communities with strong "we must DIY everything!" sentiment.)

We can all handle a small number of folks being "out" at a time - right now one of my neighbors, who broke her leg and lives in an upstairs unit she cannot now access, is living in the common house guest room and folks are helping her out while she recovers. But if there were FOUR folks needing that level of assistance at the same time, I think compassion fatigue and just logistical issues would prevent us from doing it well.


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