Charles Durrett. United States. New Society Publishers.
The Associated Press. Toronto Star. Archived from the original on Retrieved USA Today.
- The Senior Cohousing Handbook, 2nd Edition;
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A UU World article on Cohousing. Kindly shared by Mary Hinton of Germantown Commons. Janice Blanchard, Ed. Several resources for Dr.
Gawande's Being Mortal :. The Nation "Being Mortal" book review, May Critique of Feb. Driving is an absolute requirement for a person wanting to conduct business, shop, or participate in social activities. Of course many, if not most, seniors recognize the need to take control of their own housing situation as they age. They dream of living in an affordable, safe, readily accessible neighborhood where people of all ages know and help each other. But then what? What safe, affordable, neighborhood-oriented, readily accessible housing choices actually exist?
The modern single-family detached home, which constitutes about 67 percent of the American housing stock, is designed for the mythical nuclear family consisting of a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and two point four children.
Senior Cohousing Handbook
Today, less than 25 percent of the American population lives in such households. Almost 25 percent of the population lives alone, and this percentage is increasing as the number of Americans over the age of 60 increases. At the same time, the surge in housing costs and the increasing mobility of the population combine to break down traditional community ties. And, for the first time in the history of the US more women live without husbands than with. Currently, seniors represent a record Clearly, action must be taken, and quickly, to correct these household and community shortcomings.
But what can be done, and by whom? How can we better house ourselves as we age? I believe that the answer lies in senior cohousing communities. When I was in Denmark a couple of years ago to further study senior cohousing, I was there, admittedly, for somewhat selfish reasons. The agonies of placing my own mother in an assisted-living facility were still fresh.
Her story is, unfortunately, typically American: at 72 years old and determinedly, but detrimentally, living alone, she could no longer competently care for herself. Her children, doing their best, had reached the limits of their competency. Institutionalized assisted care, and eventually nursing care, were her only options.
With my mother needing immediate care, she moved into the most agreeable facility we could find and afford.
In the meantime, we continued to search for institutional care for her that was not an institution. But what we found was a business system designed to care for people, not with people. The most agreeable senior living facilities can be so large and impersonal that even a well-meaning staff of caregivers cannot truly care about their clients; moreover, institutional, language, and cultural barriers often create a palpable distance between client and staff.
Although they may be competent in their care-giving skills, staff are often young and speak English as a second language. Many seniors, for a wide variety of health and cultural reasons, have great difficulty communicating with them.
The Senior Cohousing Handbook: Independent in Community
This, of course, does not endear the staff to the clients; and the staff, in turn, can have little patience with this often-cranky elderly population. Institutionalized American seniors also bear a heavy economic burden as they age. That nest egg goes all too quickly.
Worse, before the disabled elderly can collect medical benefits, they must spend down all of their assets. The result is that the elderly who have the audacity to linger too long have little or no wealth to support themselves with or to leave behind. After 20 years of designing, building, and living the cohousing life in the US, I was certain there had to be a better way for seniors, too. In Denmark, people frustrated by the available housing options developed cohousing: a housing type that redefined the concept of neighborhood to fit contemporary lifestyles.
Tired of the isolation and the impracticalities of traditional single-family houses and apartment units, they built housing that combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of community living.
The Senior Cohousing Handbook
Although individual dwellings are designed for self-sufficiency each has its own kitchen , the common facilities are an important aspect of community life for both social and practical reasons — particularly for common dinners. The common house is there to compensate for many of the things that the car used to provide: bridge, dinner out, friends, singing, music, etc.
So I found myself back in Denmark, confident in my understanding of cohousing yet intent to learn all I could from my Danish elders. And what I found was almost unexpected and utterly refreshing, and that was the extent to which they actually were living the better life in senior cohousing. After she puts away the last of the gardening tools, she picks up a basket of vegetables and freshly cut flowers.
She feels energized to finish the day as strongly as she began it. Grateful, Karen offers him a few of the choice flowers in her bunch.
Related The Senior Cohousing Handbook, 2nd Edition: A Community Approach to Independent Living
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