Return of the Commune? - Retirement Net by Linda Thompson

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Return of the Commune?

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Will Boomers accept assisted living communities? Not likely...

It seems that lately there’s another assisted living community being built on just about every empty lot in town. What does this mean to the future? For the immediate future, it’s great. We Boomers who have no time, no desire, no call to welcome our elder parents into our own homes have someplace to put Mom and/or Dad as they need more and more assistance. But in the back of our minds, aren’t we really thinking, “Gee, Mom and Dad are going to love it here. It has all the amenities they could ask for. But there’s no way in h&%# I’m ever going to live here!”

Now be honest. Isn’t that exactly what you’re thinking right now? Boomers absolutely do not accept the idea of assisted living, and from recent studies, it would appear that some form of communal living is making its way back to the forefront. Be it condo, townhouse, duplex, or even a single family home in an adults-only community, isn’t this where we’re headed?

Way back when (in the 50s and 60s), communes were where all the hippies headed. This type of housing didn’t die, it simply grew up to be co-housing—a new type of participatory community that is attracting Boomers as they enter their 60s. Co-housing units are individually owned (like condos). But residents of these eco-friendly communities share communal resources and facilities, all of which helps them be energy efficient.

What’s ahead?

Assisted living communities, beware! The current senior housing model—from home to assisted living to nursing home—won’t cut it for many Boomers. They’ve had a sneak peek while helping their parents, and want no part of it. Co-housing lets them rewrite the future by coming full circle with their youthful ideals. And, isn’t that what all Boomers strive for—forever young?

Boomers are becoming as eco-friendly as Gen Y and the Millennials. No longer a luxury, building green is rapidly becoming necessary, and sustainable housing is the new wave.

But that isn’t the only reason Boomers are rejecting the current assisted living model. We are much too independent to ever accept a regimen of bingo on Monday, dry meat loaf every Wednesday night, and sing-alongs on Sunday afternoon. We never were a group of one mind and I doubt if we ever will be. We see ourselves as individuals, not as part of the herd. Therefore, living in a setting of regimented routine will never be our style.

The solution

My personal opinion is that those who are attempting to determine “what to do with all those Boomers,” need to step back and reassess their ideas. Boomers want options, Boomers want choices, Boomers want to make life-style decisions based not only on their financial health, but on their mental and physical health as well. When the time comes that we are no longer able to maintain our independent freedom, our assistance may come in many sizes, shapes and styles. They may be co-housing, a small adult community that sets aside one home to be paid for by community residents and “loaned” to a caregiver couple. It could be several single elder Boomers choosing to reside together under one roof—all with their own private space, but with communal areas to counteract isolation.

There are many methods of solving that driving question of, “What do we do with them?” Some currently exist, but leave it up to a Boomer to devise new methods of solving the problem—those methods being desirable and convenient for them.

Linda Thompson is the author of Every Generation Needs a New Revolution, How Six Generations Across Nine Decades can Find Harmony and Peaceful Coexistence, Planning for Tomorrow, Your Passport to a Confident Future, a common sense approach to life planning; and A Caregiver’s Journey, You Are Not Alone, a survival guide for working caregivers. To find out more about Linda’s presentations, workshops and publications, visit

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