Senior Cohousing: it’s an idea that we’ve seen before on mainstream TV shows. Just think back to “Golden Girls” decades ago. Or “Frankie and Grace” more recently. Ladies in their older years decide to skip living alone and go for a cohousing arrangement instead. The idea is growing in popularity and even trending in recent years. I personally made a cohousing promise with my childhood bestie that if we’re both single in our 70s, we’ll just buy a property together and spend our later years as roomies, looking out for each other like other older couples do.
The sense of peace it gives me to know I won’t be alone in the end is everything. Who knows how it’ll all shake out, but I totally understand the attraction of a cohousing setup. In case you’re not quite sold yet, this article will help you decide if it’s right for you.
What is Senior Cohousing?
It’s living in a community with others, whether you rent or buy, share a home or an apartment, on your own, or as part of a bigger neighborhood. You get a bit of your own space but still share things like a common dining area, fitness center, garden, TV room, gym, and more. The people around you are typically your friends.
What are the Benefits of Senior Cohousing?
One of the biggest benefits of senior cohousing is cost savings. Sharing expenses will save you more than living alone. And odds are a nursing home would be more expensive, too. Splitting the other costs, like utilities and food, could save even more money. Saving on expenses, especially at a time in your life when income has stopped, could be very helpful.
The Sense of Belonging
When your friends are close by, it’s much easier to get together. Say, for example, one older friend can no longer drive. That’s no big deal when they just live next door or down the hall. It makes it much easier to have dinner together or watch the latest TV series. Meals don’t have to be alone unless you want them to be.
As we just said about meals, you have the option of being alone when you need to be. After all, not all of us want to be around other people 24/7, no matter how much we like them.
One of my biggest fears of living alone is the idea of falling and not being able to call for help or passing out and no one knowing I’m in trouble for days. When you’re isolated or living on your own, that’s a real possibility. But when you’re in a cohousing situation, there are people around you who will see you each and every day. They’ll notice if you don’t leave your room or home. That’s more peace of mind that will not only help you rest easier but also those who love you who may not live nearby.
Another benefit is the social aspect. There’s a real epidemic of isolation as we age. We’re social beings and our modern, digital lives interfere with the connection and sense of community we used to feel. Being lonely can take a toll on your health, physically and emotionally. When you feel isolated, unsupported and alone, you’re at greater risk for things like high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
Cohousing makes it easier to stay social, which research has shown helps you live longer. And not just live longer, but live happier, too. The Canadian Cohousing Network even says seniors who cohouse live at least ten years longer than they would living in traditional senior housing. It’s also less depressing when you’re in a shared community you choose to be part of, surrounded by friends.
The Future of Senior Cohousing
By 2050, the number of people over 60 will be triple what it is now. There are all kinds of cohousing arrangements available now, and more and more are popping up every day. The fact that it’s now a growing trend means it’s more acceptable and mainstream for the benefits listed above and more. You could be part of bigger communities that are being formed in places like converted shopping centers and malls. Or, you could go smaller with just one home that you share with one friend or three (of course, how many depends on the size of the home you decide to share).
I personally like to think of the idea as similar to a sorority house from our college days. It’s a sisterhood of sorts that brings people together for social and fun reasons but also as a community that treats each other like family. That’s the beauty of cohousing–you can make it exactly what you want it to be, with who you want.