The move to support “aging in place” has some cities looking at their zoning laws. At a conference on livable communities, a New York State official suggested: “Local zoning laws are the greatest obstacle to senior housing alternatives.”
Many zoning ordinances are still based on the American Dream of single family home ownership, rather than on meeting the mixed use needs of seniors.
From “Enable people in your community to age in place,”
presentation by Linda King, New York State Department of State
They’re a bit fussy, those non-hyphenated cohousing types. We approached the Canadian Cohousing Network thinking we might join up, talk about what we were doing, learn a few things, share a few things….
Nope, they said. Sorry. You’re not cohousing. You have to live in separate houses. If you’re separate you can call yourselves cohousing, if you wanna do something crazy like share a single structure, well, that’s just not cohousing.
I’m not sure why they’re quite so strict with that definition. Maybe that’s one reason there are still only about a dozen completed cohousing communities in the whole country, with another dozen in various stages of imagination or development.
Okay. Whatever. We’ll still be co-housing, and flaunt our hyphen proudly.
Writing in the United Church Observer, the medical journalist André Picard describes loneliness as a hidden epidemic, afflicting up to 6 million Canadians.
The medical impact of this epidemic is startling. According to Picard’s review of the studies:
…loneliness is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day;
having no friends may increase the risk of premature death by about 30 percent;
social isolation can be twice as deadly as obesity;
it’s as big a killer as diabetes
and it hikes the risk of dementia by 64 percent.
Loneliness is a quantifiable health hazard.
The solution, he notes, is building community.