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Many seniors find themselves living alone later in life due to the loss of their significant others or children growing up and leaving the home. This has caused most seniors to be lonely and socially isolated, putting them at great physical and mental health risks. This is where co-housing for seniors comes in handy. It offers a great solution to isolation and loneliness for seniors.
Co-housing is a form of group residential system designed and managed by the individuals who live in it for the positive impact of creating community. It is a scheme that offers a great solution to isolation and loneliness for seniors. They are built in ways that encourage togetherness while maintaining the privacy of its residents.
The average co-housing system is relatively simple. Residents live in private homes but have access to shared spaces such as a community kitchen, dining room, garden, reading room, and play areas. They also carry out community activities together, some of which include weekly potluck dinners, movie nights and parties. This facilities daily social interactions and promoted togetherness among residents.
Co-housing encourages easy and often interaction among elders, tackling loneliness and isolation. Elders that reside in co-housing developments receive more care, live longer and fair better with diseases that affect mental health such as dementia. It also improves the quality of life, both physically and emotionally.
Co-housing has a few challenges just like every other development scheme. There’s bound to be conflict among residents of the co-housing scheme every once in a while. This is inevitable, as with any other gathering of people of different backgrounds.
It is advisable to carefully select living partners and set out all expectations clearly from the onset. This isn’t so easy to achieve because seniors co-housing doesn’t really have a developed network, as roommates and residents are sought out through traditional means like posting ads on social media and Craigslist. Although some services are starting to spring up to cater for this challenge, many still result to traditional means.
Getting into the appropriate co-housing unit is also a challenge, as it can be more isolating to be around people who aren’t a good fit. This is where larger co-housing communities might be better options for certain individuals. The higher the number of residents present, the higher the probability of finding a group of people you can resonate with.
Another downside to senior co-housing is adjusting and adapting to the rules guiding privacy and boundaries in the co-housing system. Since this is different from traditional home residents are used to it could potentially lead to disagreements and frustration while residents try to adjust.
Co-housing is a great medium for tackling loneliness and social isolation in seniors and should be encouraged. Policymakers should support co-housing strategies as they are highly beneficial to socialization and the potential health of seniors in the community.