Re: Senior Cohousing versus seniors in Mixed-Age Cohousing
From: Bonnie Fergusson (
Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2008 12:51:24 -0700 (PDT)
     My husband and I live in a mixed age Cohousing Community that is senior 
rich but has all ages, from 18 months to late 70's.  I prefer mixed age 
cohousing because I like the diversity of skills, abilities, and experience 
that is possible that way.  For instance we recently decided to install 
acoustic tiles up on the ceiling of our common house ourselves which involved 
scaffolding because we have VERY high ceilings in our common dining area.  It 
was nice that we have a young couple who likes rock climbing to do the really 
high work while some of us older folk did the measuring and cutting of tiles to 
fit and putting on the glue and providing lunch etc.  Also the variety of 
interests in mixed aged housing makes the dinner table conversations more 
interesting.  And I like kids and don't mind their noise and high energy.  Our 
community has few kids but they have interesting relationships with the other 
adults and form some close relationships with some
 of the older ones.  I think the way American culture is currently organized it 
is no longer common for young ones to form friendships with unrelated older 
folk and this makes for a less rich childhood, and a less rich old age.  In 
mixed age Cohousing this still happens, just as it once did in small towns.
    I can see some advantages to Senior Cohousing in the thinking about support 
services that will be necessary as we age further, but for now it doesn't make 
up for the richness of multi-age relationships.  And I hope that as some of us 
start needing more support we can work out shared ways to get it, just as we 
share tools and other things now.  Some of us have had occasional conversations 
about how this might be done but no formal planning or ad hoc committees formed 
as yet.  We are further along on our disaster preparedness planning 
(anticipating the big earthquake everyone expects some day in the Bay Area) 
than we are on our aging in place planning.  On the other hand we have a couple 
of wheel chair riders in the original group so our physical plant design always 
was oriented toward "universal design".  We have an elevator from the ground 
floor (garage, workshop, laundry room, guest room, exercise room, garden) to 
the second floor where everyone's
 front door is and all units are accessible to wheelchairs at least on the main 
floor (we have a lot of lofts) so we can all visit each other without 
negotiating stairs.  Our Guest room bathroom and the Common House dining room 
bathroom are both designed for wheelchair access and the door handles on all 
the doors don't require good gripping ability to open the doors.  I can 
visualize hobbling around here with a walker in my 90's just fine.  Also the 
fact that we are 2 blocks from a major public transportation hub and have a 
Farmers Market that happens just outside our building every Friday makes basic 
services pretty easily accessible here.
    I think multi-age Cohousing utilizing "universal design" principles offers 
the best of both worlds.
                     Bonnie Fergusson, age 65
                     Swan's Market Cohousing
                     Oakland, CA

--- On Fri, 7/18/08, Bruce McKinney <brucem [at]> wrote:

> From: Bruce McKinney <brucem [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Senior Cohousing versus seniors in Mixed-Age Cohousing
> To: cohousing-l [at]
> Date: Friday, July 18, 2008, 10:14 AM
> We are in the early forming stage for a cohousing community
> (currently
> called the Silver City Eco-Community in Silver City, New
> Mexico). So far all
> members of our core group are between about 55 and 60, but
> we have been
> planning a mixed age cohousing community and trying to
> recruit younger
> people. I recently started reading Senior Cohousing by
> Chuck Durrett, which
> raised questions about whether we should be forming a
> senior cohousing
> community.
> Personally I'm still in denial about my age, and I
> can't see why I would
> choose senior cohousing, but maybe I'm missing
> something. I would like to
> get opinions from younger seniors in cohousing (especially
> 55 to 60) on why
> you chose senior cohousing or mixed cohousing and whether
> you think you made
> the right decision. If you are in mixed cohousing, would
> you consider moving
> to senior cohousing?
> Bruce McKinney 
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