When we plan for our retirement years, nursing homes or living alone with a home health care aid is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, however, as much as we dread the thought, there may come a day when our family will be faced with the tough decision of whether or not to move us into a nursing home.
Luckily for us, the world is evolving, and nursing homes might be becoming a thing of the past. How? …Well, something called “senior cohousing” is making its rounds. And we should all be very excited!
What is Senior Cohousing?
Senior cohousing neighborhoods were actually created in Denmark in the early 1960s and brought to North America in 1988. Due to the boomer generation looking for more desirable alternative living arrangements, cohousing has been growing in popularity and has picked up steam in recent years.
A cohousing community is intended to ensure that each senior that lives there can enjoy privacy and have a space of their own (their own house or apartment) while also being able to take advantage of shared spaces.
Essentially, it’s seniors living in their own space, surrounded by THEIR friends who share things like the dining area, library, fitness center, garden, TV room, and more – how exciting!
A Greater Alternative for Seniors
For those looking for a more comfortable and enjoyable way to spend their senior years, cohousing comes with many advantages such as:
1. Greater Quality of Life (Mentally & Emotionally)
Nursing homes can be depressing. Many seniors fear to move into a nursing home because they see it as a final destination before the end of their life. Living in a nursing home can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, a primary cause of poor health among older adults.
2. A Real Community
This is probably the biggest benefit because seniors get to have their OWN friends nearby making it easier to share time and activities. Seniors that live alone face a real risk of loneliness, and a tight-knit community eliminates that risk.
3. More Privacy
Unlike assisted living which puts seniors in close quarters with other residents, senior cohousing provides residents with their own house or apartment!
4. More Affordable
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It generally costs much less than nursing homes or assisted living, since seniors share resources with their friends. The sharing concept of senior cohousing can really help ease the financial burden many seniors face.
It’s safer than living alone. For seniors who risk falling in their home and getting stuck there for hours is a huge concern. In a cohousing community, neighbors who anticipate to see you every day will notice if you’re not around.
6. You Have A Say
For seniors that move into cohousing communities, they’re able to sound in on the details of the way it’s being run and any adjustments that get made. Every resident has a voice!
When looking at the downsides of senior cohousing, the only negative we really found was that it doesn’t offer the same level of care as assisted living would.
Though some residents often can get help from their neighbors for smaller needs, like in 70-year old Margaret Critchlow’s case. Margaret had to have hip replacement surgery, and she says:
“When I got home from the hospital, our neighbors made it so easy for my husband and me while I recovered, helping us and providing meals,”
However, not all neighbors can be expected to offer the level of care that assisted living staff, and in-home care aids provide. For seniors who reach a point where they need that special level of care (and who live in a senior cohousing unit) they will need to hire someone to come each day to help.
How Do Nursing Homes Compare To Senior Cohousing?
There are some advantages to nursing homes like access to trained physicians on site. However as we stated above, many people feel that the drawbacks of living in a nursing home hugely outweigh the benefits.
Some Disadvantages of Nursing Homes Include:
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