Housing options for older people in the UK have been rather limited to remaining living ‘independently’ in one’s own and some variant of institutionally-provided, pre-established and age-exclusive housing such as retirement communities, extra care or sheltered housing. However, interest in alternative forms of housing and living which align more closely with the expectations of those currently entering later life is steadily growing. In this paper we present some findings from original, mixed-methods research on the UK’s only established example of senior co-housing, which also happens to be women only. Through thematic analysis, we explore two key questions about this important social experiment: 1) is this a model merely for the dedicated, activist and privileged few, as is often presumed; and 2) what might it tell us about post-traditional ageing. Is it merely a retirement lifestyle choice and identity project, grounded in logics of age denial, activity, choice, individualism and risk management? Our findings cannot be conclusive at this stage, but they do suggest a new model of later life co-living for the UK based on more collectivist values of inter-dependence, commitment, learning and, even, love.
- SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care
- senior co-housing
- post-traditional ageing
- alternative housing
- mutual aid