We have all seen the film The Exotic Marigold Hotel where a group of retirees move to India to live together in a new residence. Well, it seems that as the ageing population grows so does the idea that we may want alternative living arrangements to the traditional ones. In France the innovative BabaYaga movement created their first residence in Paris in 2012. It was the idea of one woman activist, Thérèse Clerc, who joined with other women to set up a self-governing co-housing collective for like-minded women who could stay independent by supporting each other. (Baba Yoga is a mythical witch who gave advice to younger women.) Baba Yaga Paris
The idea grew in France and has been copied in other countries. Residents of Toronto are now trying to create a Baba Yoga hose there, describing it thus : “Baba Yaga Place Toronto is a fresh, original model of living that will enable community members to age within their own walls through mutual care, surrounded by like-minded companions. Community members pursue both their personal interests and a commitment to the broader community.” Baba Yaga Place
In America an organisation called EngAGE says it “provides life-enhancing onsite programs in affordable senior and multigenerational housing — classes, workshops and events in the arts, well-being, lifelong learning, community building and intergenerational connectivity — in southern California, Oregon and Minnesota. We simply change the idea of aging by transforming retirement communities into vibrant centers of life and social connection.” EngAGE
Also in the States a musician called Jerry Myroup is floating the idea of a co-housing project primarily for other ageing rockers called Rock Til You Drop. His project is being researched by a Chicago gerontologist, Lydia Manning who said : “I do think these types of communities are going to be gaining in popularity. I think you’ll see a trend of people wanting to craft space, rather than just pick a place and go. The marketplace is going to have to change in terms of our options for people.” Not Your Mother’s Retirement Home
With research showing the increase in loneliness in the western world, and the importance of social connections for the health, cognitive fitness and wellbeing of ageing people, communal, self-supporting living is going to provide a happy solution for many people.