Loneliness can be an actual killer, and some people may find it more difficult to avoid the older they get. But a growing trend among seniors has some people curing their loneliness in a fun and clever way. They're embracing a new way of living and kicking isolation to the curb.
Seniors are often the hardest struck with loneliness, but a different way of living is changing that for some. Cohousing involves having your own home, but on a shared property—often one that has a community kitchen, living area and even a garden. Members of cohousing spaces will often watch out for one another and share in maintaining common areas, and many become friends so the social benefits abound. What's behind this trend?
Why Seniors are Prone to Loneliness
Seniors are at a higher risk of becoming lonely. The American Psychological Association explains that time and circumstance eventually leave most people with fewer friends and family nearby. Friends die. Family members move away. Add to that the reduced mobility that can come with increased age, and isolation can take over. Harvard calls it an epidemic. And this epidemic is a genuine threat to health and wellbeing.
A Novel Solution
But recently, we've noticed that many seniors are taking back their social lives by choosing to live in cohousing communities. Not just limited to seniors, of course, these communities are crushing isolation by bringing social interaction just outside each member's home. Many call it the perfect mesh of private and community living.
Each member often has their own private home, complete with a private living room and kitchen, but there's also shared space. Members can choose to cook and eat together in the community kitchen and dining area. In some communities there is one shared meal per week, in others, there is one every night. Friends and community members can interact while they tend the community garden or explore their favorite hobbies together in the form of groups like book clubs, knitting clubs, and even yoga classes.
Friends don't have to worry about driving or meeting at expensive restaurants to spend quality time together and the support is there if someone needs help both emotionally and physically as people care for one another. This can be especially helpful for people who have a hard time getting around. Or for those who need someone to check in on them from time to time. And when all your neighbors are your friends, you can have peace of mind in knowing they have your back should an emergency or serious health issue arise.
Other Benefits to Cohousing
Cohousing was founded on the idea that human beings thrive best when they belong to strong communities. Members believe in sharing community work, but also their time, food and other necessities. Members are able to split some expenses such as ridesharing or tools and they will often run errands for one another or coordinate home care needs.
The American Psychological Association reports that there are currently 165 of these communities across the country, with many more in the works. Could this be the way of the future anyone at risk of loneliness?
Isolation doesn't need to be a normal part of senior life, and these arrangements are very different from retirement communities as they are often of mixed ages, including children and elderly alike, and the community itself brings people in who they feel would be a good fit, rather than anyone who can pay the fees such as in a retirement facility. An internet search turns up lots of options, so we will leave the research to you but this seems like a great option for beating the blues.
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