Re: Re: Questions re senior cohousing
From: aamato (
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 16:05:47 -0800 (PST)
One of the surprising things I've found about living in cohousing is how much I
value the over-55 crowd!  I agree with both Sharon and Bob about why seniors
might want a seniors-only cohousing community.In addition, I think having a
seniors-only would produce a more active, well-run and less divisive cohousing

I am in my 40s and have no children, but work full time.  I started out in
cohousing thinking how great it would be to have lots of kids and families in
our community and how we probably didn't want too many older people because we
wouldn't want to be "stuck" taking care of them as they got older. (I am not
being very diplomatic here, but I think you all know what I mean.)
I was rather disappointed that we didn't start out (5 years ago) with many
children and I hoped we wouldn't attract too many more older folks.  Boy, have I
changed my tune!
Of our 15 most active members, about 10 of them are over 55 and retired. They're
great.  They really do a ton of work. When we found out our newest residents
(they moved in late last Fall) were recent retirees, some were disappointed they
weren't a family with children.  I, instead, was ecstatic, especiallly after
meeting them and seeing how many things they were interested in working on and
how much energy and time they had. We now have quite a few children and families
and I love having them around, but to be honest, I do indeed feel like there is
now more for the childless among us to do, and there is more focus on activities
and amenities for children.   Among our pool of 16 parents with children at
home, 6 are single parents. Of the 16, perhaps 2 are very active and the rest
try to do a bit here and there, but understandably have quite a bit on their
plate. (See Sharon's e-mail.)  None of our older residents are disabled or
needful of extra care.  Our eldest is 85 and he keeps the property tidy with
sweeping and shoveling and regularly attends both team and plenary meetings.

So I can see how, not only would an older person choose seniors-only cohousing,
but it might be easier to create bonds and get the work of the community done in
a more equal way, creating a more cohesive and effective community.

Anna Amato
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC

                      Bob Morrison                                              
                      <bomorris@cisco.c        To:       cohousing-L [at], Bob Morrison <bomorris [at]>                  
                      om>                      cc:                              
                                               Subject:  [C-L]_ Re: Questions 
re senior cohousing                                      
                      03/17/2005 03:11                                          
                      Please respond to                                         

 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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