Senior Co Housing and Intentional Communities

Q: What concrete steps can we take as a meeting to open awareness of new ways of living in and sharing our world and its resources?

Q: How am I helping to develop a social, economic and political system which will nurture an environment which sustains and enriches life for all? PYM Faith and Practice, 2002

An Intentional Community is a planned residential community whose members share resources and responsibilities, often organized around a common idea or value. For some older adults, moving into an Intentional Community or shared “Senior Co Housing” is an option to traditional retirement communities. An Intentional Community formed around common values allows one to live in a manner consistent with what one’s beliefs, for example an eco-village where practices support a sustainable environment. As we consider options for housing in our later years, Intentional Communities may present an option for living in an inclusive environment and in a way that is aligned with our testimonies and values.

A movement in intentional communities is growing among older adults. Senior or Older Adult Cohousing is a form of Intentional Community where residents participate in the planning and design of villages and live cooperatively, mutually supporting one another through the changes that aging can present. These communities allow residents to age in place while sharing resources for caregiving, property and home maintenance, and transportation. Neighbors look after one another and each member contributes his or her strengths to the community.

“…regardless of the future, man must enter into the possibilities of the present moment and let himself unite with the everlasting yet everchanging elements of the world in which he finds himself.” Elsie Marion Andrews, Facing and Fulfilling the Later Years, Pendle Hill Pamphlet*

In 1998, Jimmy Carter wrote in The Virtues of Aging, “Only 30% of American families are accumulating any long-term savings or pension benefits, while almost 45% are spending more than they earn.” With the more recent decline in our economy, even among those who have saved, many lost significant portions of their savings. Other have used retirement funds for more urgent needs while unemployed or underemployed. While Continuing Care Retirement Communities have been the option for many older adults, it is predicted that such options will not be affordable to the majority of us. For some, aging in place at home or with families will be an option. Others of us will need to consider new ways of living in our older years.

Statistics may be alarming, but might we take this as an opportunity to live our values? Can we honor our the truth of our interdependence and learn to rely on one another? Are there models from the past from which we may learn? Is it possible to live in harmony with a sustainable environment? While we consider how we will be cared for, are we also mindful of the world we will be leaving behind?

“…joy is the awareness of a harmony, a perfect fit, between the form of our life and its shape…” Howard E. Collier, Experiment with a Life. Pendle Hill Pamphlet*

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More articles on this website:

Adaptive Advices
Discernment for Long Term Care
Housing Options
Living at Home Forever

Other Articles/Links:

Fellowship for Intentional Community Website
FIC: Quaker walkers visit Rosewind Cohousing and Port Townsend Ecovillage
YES! Magazine: Of, By, and For Seniors: Japanese Senior Cooperatives
Friends Rehabilitation Program

Sources/Further Reading:

Diana Leafe Christian, Finding Community- How to Join and EcoVillage or Intentional Community, 2007, New Society Publishers, Canada.

Charles Durrett, The Senior CoHousing Handbook, 2009, New Society Publishers, Canada.

David Wann, Reinventing Community-Stories from the Walkways of Co-Housing, 2005, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado

*Elsie Marion Andrews, Facing and Fulfilling the Later Years, Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Pendle Hill, Wallingford PA. and Howard E. Collier, Experiment with a Life. Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Pendle Hill, Wallingford PA. are available through the Pendle Hill Bookstore.