Scenario in the Americas. While there might be something to be said for a troupe of 60 or 70 something’s living in a “retirement resort” removed from urban centres, sharing common social values and activities; from what I’ve seen that option has a limited shelf life. Communal in this case still has its boundaries around privacy and when individual life changes such as failing health take over then the proposition of “getaway freedom” can quickly adopt a “sense of isolation”. Now what?
Over to Japan in Maren Godzik’s paper from the RC21 Conference http://www.rc21.org and a look at communal housing alternatives. Here NGO’s, local communities and older people have created small sized communal homes typically for 10 people, embedded in residential neighbourhoods – as opposed to larger institutional housing on the fringes of urban centres.
Rules and structures are fluid in these Japanese elder communes and support systems are there only upon request unless urgency dictates ordered health aid. All this includes communal kitchens and living rooms while respecting individual living preferences. But the key here is an integrated community of all generations creating new opportunity for what might be described as “close encounters of a fourth kind” – neighbourhood watch meets university dorm.
Some of this communal housing model is afoot here in the Americas and the UK; but how well integrated are they in the community – here and in Japan? How well do they blend in to the neighbourhood landscape? Are communal dorms really going to be the norm?