Women for Living in Community Glossary: Definitions of Common Phrases

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One of the challenges with discussing community living options as we age is knowing whether or not we are all on the same page in the first place. Are we using the same language and talking about the same things?

If only there were some helpful definitions that we can use as tools to facilitate the conversations…

As it turns out, there are. I thought I might be able to shed a little light on the subject by providing a glossary of community related terms that can help us in our discussions.

  • Accessory Apartments. These are sometimes referred to as “mother-in-law suites.” This is a self-contained unit added on to an existing building. Accessory apartments are a great option for individuals who want to live with family or other loved ones but don’t want to share a home with them.
  • Accessory Dwelling Unit. While accessory apartments are added on to existing buildings, the accessory dwelling is a free standing home on the same property as another house. However, their function is usual the same as an accessory apartment. Elder Cottages is one company that designs and builds these structures.

Click below to read more common community living definitions.

  • Cluster Cottages or Pocket Neighborhoods. This type of living situation is starting to become popular in a few areas. These are usually smaller than the average home size buildings clustered together to form a community neighborhood. There may or may not be some shared resources such as common spaces or gardens. Here is one great resource on pocket neighborhoods.
  • Cohousing neighborhoods are designed to make connecting with your neighbors easy.

    Cohousing. This type of living arrangement can sometimes be referred to as an intentional community. These are individual homes that share common areas such as a social or recreation center. The inhabitants of these communities share their resources or time by meeting regularly, preparing community meals, and determine the rules of the community. There are a few elder cohousing developments in the US. Check out Cohousing.org for more information.

  • Continuing Care at Home. This is an option that is specifically focused on individuals who require additional medical or occupational care but who do not want to move into an assisted living facility. This white paper by Clifton Larson Allen can provide more details on continuing care at home.
  • Shared Housing. In this model, a group of individuals will share one traditional style home with private spaces for each person or couple. The communal spaces, such as a kitchen or living area, are shared and each of the residents has a responsibility for the household. Check out additional resources on shared housing to learn more.
  • Spontaneous Communities. This refers to communities where residents have lived for quite some time and have opted to age in place. Long term neighbors become each other’s support system and the community develops naturally. This is also referred to as a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.
  • The Village Model. This community living model was pioneered by Beacon Hill Village of Boston and uses a nonprofit organization to vet and organize programs and services for older adult residents. To help defray costs, the organization charges residents a yearly membership fee, with discounts for those in financial need.

I know this is a lot of information, but these concepts can help you get a better idea of what kind of community you are looking for in the future.

Do you want to know more about community living and the options available to you? Contact me to learn more about Women for Living in Community!


Women For Living in Community