Senior cohousing is a neighbourhood focused on aging well in community. Residents design and manage senior cohousing themselves relying on neighbourly mutual support (co-care) and a resident caregiver they hire as needed. Communities are designed for physical accessibility as well as financial, environmental, and social sustainability. Large, shared common facilities and individually owned small dwellings preserve privacy while valuing community.
In senior cohousing you can flourish through mutual support for the rest of your life if you’re lucky, or at least for about ten years longer than if you stayed in a conventional house. You can live affordably on a fixed income while getting the care you need. You can reduce your environmental footprint while improving your quality of life. You can give and receive mutual support to foster independence as you age. You can benefit from social interaction that keeps your brain lively and your spirit nourished. And you can have a lot of fun along the way.
Multigenerational cohousing in Denmark inspired senior cohousing. As families aged in cohousing some wanted to adapt the cohousing model so as to thrive as they aged in place. The Danish government supported this “Second Half of Life” housing as an effective strategy for healthy, active aging.
Charles Durrett brought senior cohousing to North America in 2009 with the publication of his Senior Cohousing Handbook. Durrett and his partner, Kathryn McCamant, had adapted the European model of multigenerational cohousing and introduced it to American audiences back in the ‘80s through their book Cohousing: a Contemporary approach to housing ourselves (1988).
Senior cohousing communities are becoming popular in the US – visit www.seniorcohousing.com. In 2011, the Canadian Senior Cohousing Society formed to raise awareness of this option in Canada and to provide information about senior cohousing communities. The first senior cohousing in Canada, Wolf Willow Cohousing opened in Saskatoon in 2012. For information about other senior cohousing communities, please refer to our Detailed Community Info page.
Many communities have no age restrictions, welcoming anyone who supports their vision and process. In some, one household member must be 55+.
Even those with no desire to live in senior cohousing may find participation in a course or study group beneficial in planning their own aging strategies. Sure everyone thinks that aging happens to other people but if you are lucky you’ll get old too! It is not so hard to get out of denial about growing old in the company of like-minded people. Harbourside in Sooke, BC, requires members to take a short course on aging well in community. Other communities recommend it.
Each community creates its own pet policy through consensus-based decision-making. Many communities do allow pets.
The ideals that bring multigenerational cohousing communities together are especially powerful for seniors. Have a look at our Benefits of Seniors Cohousing page for more details.
Co-care is the heart of senior cohousing and the secret of its success. In Denmark, co-care in cohousing enables people to live independently for many years longer than if they were aging in place in their former homes. Co-care is a grassroots model of neighbourly mutual support that can help reduce social isolation and promote positive, active aging. It encourages independence through awareness that we are all interdependent. In a cohousing community, giving and receiving co-care is entirely voluntary. We may choose to support each other through such activities as doing errands, driving, cooking, or going for a walk with our neighbour. We believe that being good neighbours helps us age well in community and have fun doing it.
Senior cohousing provides housing that is more financially, socially, and environmentally affordable and sustainable than many other options for seniors