Seniors are moving in with people their age to combat loneliness, build a community and avoid social isolation

Seniors are fighting loneliness and social isolation by building their own communities with people are about their same age.

Seniors and retirees are moving in a co-housing community. Here, they are spending their days hiking, eating together, and making their small neighborhood a better place to live.

Women working together

Co-housing is a community of private homes clustered around shared space. While this idea is not new as some condominium units and neighborhoods are designed this way, shared spaces include parking, walkways, open space, and gardens. Neighbors also share resources like tools and lawnmowers.

Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces.

Members of the community talking to each other

The following are only some of the reasons why some of the active seniors in Portland chose to live in PDX Commons.

1] It’s a community, not a care facility

Residents in a co-housing community have a common goal, which is to create a community where everyone helps one another.

“We are people who have the ability to live independently who intended to come together to form a community,” Steve Fisher, 63, said of the group that ranges in age from 57 to 80. “We made it really clear: We’re not a care facility.” Fisher and his wife moved to the co-housing after he retired as a transportation planner.

Seniors going on a hike together

2] There are private and shared spaces

In co-housing, there are private and public spaces. While the aim and essence of co-housing are to bring people together. The spirit of coming together is encouraged by shared areas, regular get-togethers, and consensus in decision-making.

However, the privacy of individuals is respected as everyone has their own unit and there is no sharing of income.

Seniors cooking in the kitchen

3] There is a sense of belongingness

One of the benefits of co-housing is the sense of belongingness that each member of the community feels. Due to the proximity of the housing units and the shared spaces, people often meet.

“Here, you walk in and know every one of the people and you know them well. You greet them. They’re your friends. You do stuff with them. It’s the opposite of the isolation you sometimes get in the urban areas,” Fisher said.

Seniors gathered around a fire pit

4] There are a lot of things to do (and enjoy!)

Five-mile hikes, yoga classes, and communal dinners are only some of the activities that are enjoyed by the community members. After all, a co-housing community features private homes plus many shared facilities for socializing, meals, and taking care of community business together.

Seniors hiking

5] (Literally) growing old together

According to PDX Commons website, the community houses 39 adults ranging in age from mid-50s to late-70s.

Rather than moving to a care facility or living alone, active seniors found new friends and forged new bonds with total strangers with a common goal – to make their lives better.

Originally published April 2018.

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