Sharon Jayson of Kaiser Health News reports on cohousing, a new trend in housing for older adults that recognizes the value of social networks. Cohousing offers older adults independence, companionship and community in one housing complex. At the same time, it can bring down people’s housing costs.
The idea behind cohousing is that a group of people, who likely do not know each other from the get-go, get to know each other and then agree to move in to a cohousing community together. They may design the housing together, collectively deciding how to structure common areas.
Cohousing is a way of downsizing while retaining everything you need. For example, instead of each community member owning a home with a guest room, a lawnmower and a washer-dryer, the cohousing members may pool resources and own these items jointly. They effectively create their own customized neighborhood, sharing what they decide they want to share.
Cohousing can be designed any number of ways, depending upon the community. People may live in private homes or apartments. There might be a common house for caregivers and guests. But, whatever the set up, there is a lot of shared space.
Today, there are 168 cohousing communities. Most of them are intergenerational. Now, several of them are exclusively for older adults.
Cohousing communities address the problem of social isolation that confronts many people who remain in their homes as they get older. Continuing care retirement communities are an alternative housing option worth considering, as are assisted living facilities. PACE is yet another option that provides all-inclusive care to people in their communities. And, for people looking for nursing home care, there’s the Eden Alternative.
Whatever your choice, make sure to maintain a social network and stay engaged as much as possible. Too often, people have few people to talk to or otherwise engage with as they get older. And, that can lead to both mental and physical decline.
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