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Elder Cohousing

A new option for retirement — or sooner!

Cohousing

Neighbors examine the architect's model of their Silver Sage Village, senior cohousing that combines privacy and community. — Courtesy of The Cohousing Company

Brumleve, a retired English teacher who moved with his wife from Springfield, Ill., to Abingdon after reading a newspaper article about ElderSpirit, loves the discussions there on spirituality and aging. "We're not afraid to talk about preparing to die or illness or the lessening of our abilities to do things," Brumleve says. For now, like the others around him, he is adding to his abilities and has taken up watercolor painting. He shares part of a studio in the common house with a resident who is a professional painter.

The recession hasn't helped cohousing, since most of the projects are new construction, and banks are skittish about lending money. Some planned communities have folded and others have been postponed. It's hard to sell a house in this market to buy another. Cohousing consultant Abraham Paiss predicts that developers may begin initiating more of these communities. "I think senior cohousing is really going to grow in this country," says Jim Leach, president of Wonderland Hill Development Company, the largest U.S. developer of cohousing and a resident of Silver Sage.

"I realize that the more you get to know people and their lives," says Butterfield, who is Leach's neighbor, "the more you want to be with them. I think I can speak for everyone here. We treasure each other."

For more on senior cohousing, contact:

Sally Abrahms, a writer from Boston, wrote this article as part of her MetLife Foundation Journalists on Aging Fellowship in partnership with New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America.

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