Katie McCamant, cohousing expert, will speak at a public presentation in Durham about “Senior Cohousing: Thriving in Community.” Baby boomers are looking for ways to do retirement and aging differently from their parents, and cohousing is one such avenue. Cohousing is an intentional community designed to bring back and expand upon the close knit neighborhoods of the past.
Both architects, McCamant, along with her husband Charles Durrett, lived in and studied cohousing in The Netherlands in the 1980s and brought the concept to the United States at that time. They are the coauthors of the book Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities, and Katie contributed a chapter in the book Not Your Mother’s Retirement. McCamant is currently the President of CoHousing Solutions in Nevada City, CA, where her team provides consulting services to newly forming cohousing communities. She has been involved in the formation of over fifty such communities, and she lives in Nevada City Cohousing.
In cohousing, neighbors commit to being part of a community for everyone’s mutual benefit, and the design of the community, originally created with input from the future residents, promotes frequent interaction and close relationships while residents choose their own level of engagement. Cohousing communities typically adopt green approaches to living, and they develop a list of shared values upon which all decisions are based. There is usually a Common House, which offers an extension of one’s fully equipped but smaller home, often including a large kitchen, dining/meeting room, guest, laundry, media, and exercise rooms. There may be other shared resources such as a woodshop, storage barn, art studio, swimming pool, etc. There are several cohousing communities in the area: Eno Commons, Solterra, and Durham Central Park Cohousing Community in Durham, Pacifica in Carrboro, and Arcadia in Chapel Hill.
Senior cohousing offers baby boomers the opportunity to decide where and with whom they will spend the best third of their lives before a crisis takes the decision out of their hands. Residents agree to be “good neighbors” while it is not expected that all will be best of friends. Having a close knit community combats the loneliness and isolation many elders experience especially as they become less mobile and adds to the safety and security of the neighborhood. Smart design features creating accessibility and visitability don’t get in the way of active seniors but are then present as the need arises. Spontaneous as well as planned activities offer myriad opportunities to learn new skills or just plain have fun. Sharing of resources, even in terms of caregiving, help keep expenses down. Senior cohousing communities are being encouraged to include a caregiver suite in the Common House for future shared use of residents in need of extra assistance. AARP’s 2011 survey showed that 90% adults wish to stay in their homes as they age. Many features of a well-planned senior cohousing community will aid residents in staying in their homes longer. Senior cohousing, Elderberry, is in Rougemont, and there are two forming senior cohousing communities in Durham: Village Hearth Cohousing and Intown Neighborhood Place.
McCamant’s presentation, “Senior Cohousing: Thriving in Community,”
will be on Friday, November 13th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at
ERUUF (Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship), 4907 Garrett Rd,
Durham, NC 27707. All are welcome; $10 cash/check donation requested at
the door. Questions? Pat at VillageHearthCohousing@gmail.com or
Margaret at 561-714-8009.
Contact: Pat McAulay