It’s not a return to 1960s idealism, but it could signal a new model for senior living. We’ve talked about “intentional communities” prior, and specifically, a concept known as Cohousing. Now, the idea seems to be catching on as an attractive option for single Boomers.
A bit of history: The cohousing idea originated in Denmark, and was brought to the U.S. by two architects in the early 1980s with the idea of “improving the world, one neighborhood at a time.”
Cohousing communities are usually developed as small neighborhoods, with similar features: single-family or detached homes along pedestrian-friendly streets or clustered around a courtyard with as few as 10, or as many as 100 residences; and a “common house” that serves as a social center. Communities can be developer- or group-driven, and have even found ways to integrate into urban settings.
Neighborly interaction is encouraged, and often takes the shape of community meals, clubs or even businesses. Members say that collectively taking care of common property helps build a sense of trust, the feeling of working toward a common goal, and group decision-making.
The concept seems tailor-made for Boomers, many of whom live alone by choice, and are beginning to plan for a future that will keep them active, engaged and out of a nursing facility or a traditional CCRC (which, as we have found through research, are not currently meeting their needs or expectations) for as long as possible.
Boomers have also been the innovators of a number of living arrangements. “To [the older generation], living alone is the only measure of success, but the Boomers’ comfort with interdependence means there are many options,” Dr. Bill Thomas, an influential geriatrician and author, told the Boston Globe. “Aging in community, rather than all alone, is going to make the Boomers’ experience of old age different than anything that ever came before.”
MARKETING INSIGHT: Watch for new alternatives for independent living that provide more options, including intentional communities built around causes, religions, lifestyles or locations.
We like the idea of cohousing as a way for an existing senior living provider to further integrate itself into the greater community, or for an entity such as a homecare agency to expand its offerings. The best aspect of this concept is that it brings back the idea of “neighbors helping neighbors.”
The Varsity Team