Rather than settling down in traditional assisted living facilities, some are turning to shared homes and cohousing communities.
A few years ago, Marianne Kilkenny’s elderly parents moved into an assisted living community. That got her thinking about her own plans because she didn’t want to end up in a similar community or a facility run by a company.
Kilkenny, 65, the founder of Women For Living in Community, is among a growing number of baby boomers who are taking matters into their own hands by creating their own retirement communities.
“I’m part of a movement,” says Kilkenny, who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and is the author of “Your Quest for Home: A Guidebook to Find the Ideal Community for Your Later Years.” She says the focus of the movement is “aging in community as opposed to aging in place.”
These resident-created retirement solutions, or intentional communities, are taking different forms, from shared homes to cohousing communities to “pocket neighborhoods” of people who choose to live in the same area and watch out for each other, which includes cooking and doing errands together and taking care of people when they are sick.
Charles Durrett, an author and architect who designs cohousing communities, and his wife, Kathryn McCamant, who is also an architect, live in a multigenerational cohousing community of 34 households they developed in Nevada City, California, a town of 3,000 people 60 miles northeast of Sacramento.
While this shared housing model started in Denmark, Durrett and McCamant coined the English term cohousing and brought the concept to the U.S. in the 1980s, publishing “Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves.” In 2009, Durrett published the second edition of “Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living – The Handbook,” reflecting the increased interest in cohousing among aging baby boomers.