Mega thanks to Rabbi Dayle Friedman for linking me to this terrific article on an alternative housing option for olders elders ancients who do NOT want to move into a continuous care retirement communities.
“I like to think of senior co-housing as interdependent living,” said Raines Cohen, northern California regional organizer with Cohousing California, who lives in a Berkeley co-housing community.
Co-housing — aka a cluster of private home around a shared space – is old hat in the always innovative San Francisco area & developed in other parts of the state. Three of California’s five co-housing communities are in the Bay area, but the first – opened in December 2005 – is tucked into Davis, 70 miles to the east, outside of my beloved Sacramento. The one in Santa Cruz sets my heart aflutter – – this “senior-focused” multigenerational co-housing provides layers of benefits beyond a place to call home.
The article notes “One of the biggest advantages to senior cohousing is the companionship, an antidote to what New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell once described as ‘the terrible loneliness of the old.‘ ” And loneliness is rooted in a loss of being of service to self & others, a toxic off-shoot of the lack of purpose that far too often burdens olders far more than housekeeping & cooking & walking the dog ever did. Seeing the “no work, no worries” bill board come-on for a local continuous care retirement community (CCRC) makes me cringe – – my mother was happy to not wash floors or do a load of wash, yet took great delight in dusting & sweeping, in shelling eggs & brushing mushrooms, in doing a score of small but meaningful tasks. To her, “no work, no worries” would have felt like death preceding death, whereas being part of a mutually supportive community would have been right up her alley.
I look forward to following what comes out of next month’s regional co-housing conference in Boulder, CO – – three days of talks, tours & networking nurturing the co-housing movement.
Co-housing keeps people connected to others, to a sense of purpose, to themselves. In place of the dependency that’s sadly an unintended but all-too natural consequence of “full-services” living at upmarket retirement communities, co-housing provides life-expanding, soul-satisfying INTERdependence that gives purpose to lives, a bounce in the step & a smile on the face.