Re: Neighborly Support vs Health Care in Cohousing [was Need from Manzanita Village in AZ: We are developing an "aging in place" protocol - can you help us?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2021 13:12:48 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 13, 2021, at 2:34 PM, Nan Henderson <nhenderson [at]> 
> wrote:
> We are requesting any documents/policies/suggestions from other communities 
> that have dealt with older, single, failing members that have no immediate 
> family.  Have you developed anything that can help us?

This should be on the CohoUS site in my blog entries but I wasn’t able to find 


Guidelines for Neighborly Support vs Health Care in Cohousing

These guidelines were developed at Takoma Village Cohousing in consultation 
with medical, psychiatric, and religious professionals. They are intended to 
clarify expectations between neighbors, family members living at a distance, 
and those considering living in cohousing who have special needs.

When presenting cohousing as a caring community that encourages aging in place, 
it becomes important to distinguish between what is sustainable on a temporary 
basis and what can be provided on a continuing basis. And when neighborly 
support becomes health care that involves dependency and risk. 

Neighbors in cohousing can provide helpful services but not critical services 
or services that create a dependency. This includes:

1. Picking up medications at the pharmacy, but not administering medications.
2. Shopping but not being sole shopper.
3. Bringing in some meals, but not becoming the cook or meal server.
4. Accompanying, along with an aid, to a medical appt but not daily 
5. Not providing intimate body care or bathroom functions.
6. Not assuming responsibility for making appointments or arranging for health 
care providers.
7. Not changing bandages or other health care devices.

Neighbors should not expect support for themselves in activities that would:

(1) interfere with the normal household functioning of others on a continuing 
basis, or 
(2) that would cause harm to the patient or liability to the neighbor if not 
done or not done properly.


Some members who have developed more intimate relationships may do more of 
these things but In general, I think these are good guidelines for 
distinguishing between being a good neighbor and allowing another person to 
become dependent on you. And to prevent family members living at a distance 
from expecting cohousers just to take care of everything.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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