Re: Questions re senior cohousing
From: Bob Morrison (
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 12:11:26 -0800 (PST)
I am a lurker on this list, but I am de-lurking because this is really important stuff.
On 3/16/05, Duncan Cavens wrote in part:

I'm at a loss to figure out what the attaction [of senior coho] is.

 Sharon Villines already said most of what I would have said on this. Here are 
some more thoughts.
A lot of conventional cohousing communities are child-focused. That is, a high percentage of the activities are focused on children. That means fewer activities that are focused on adults. A lot of seniors don't feel comfortable living in a setup like this and, given the choice, would choose to live in a conventional retirement community. Also, kids make a lot of noise and a lot of seniors don't want to live with this noise. There are some things you can do with the designs to reduce this noise. Such as to put lots of soundproofing in the outside walls and shared walls of the units, and to not have stacked units, which are often prohibited by the zoning anyway. (Have you ever lived in a first floor apartment with children in the unit above you? That is one of several issues with stacked units.) But the noise is still an issue. There has been a lot of discussion on the list over the last 10 years about noise, mostly due to kids, in the common house during common meals. Some seniors simply can't live with this amount of noise. If they can't, their only choice is to forgo common meals, which wipes out one of the main reasons for living in cohousing in the first place. This doesn't mean people living in a senior coho will be totally isolated from kids. There will be kids continually visiting the place, probably more so than at a conventional retirement community. And, I would recommend that a senior coho be built close to a conventional coho (as is happening with Silver Sage), so that residents have more chances to spend time with kids. A lot of seniors don't want to live in a conventional retirement community. Such a community has most of the problems of a conventional condo community, such as that residents have no say in the design of the place and are prohibited from working on projects such as grounds maintenance. The only advantages I can see over a conventional condo community is that it's seniors-only (which some people want, partly due to the noise issue) and that it has organized social activities to bring people together.
Bob Morrison
Boxborough. MA

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