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Intentional Spiritual Communities for the Emerging Elderly

By 2027, 78 million Americans will reach retirement age. Gerontologists are raising questions about how the U.S. will be able to effectively and qualitatively meet the medical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of such a large elder population. One solution developing among aging Americans is the Danish concept of co-housing, a form of intentional community that offers an opportunity for people to maintain personal independence while promoting interdependence as participants care for one another. Elder co-housing is often oriented around shared values; for example, active senior communities that stress indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities. Another value can be spiritual in orientation. Indeed, some people see the commitment to community as itself a spiritual value. In other cases, specific spiritual traditions form the heart of common ground. To help interested persons understand the concept and emerging practice, ReligionLink, a sister website or Religion Newswriters Association, a member organization that promotes and supports excellence in religion news reporting, published an online resource page featuring contextual and background perspective, definitions that distinguish several types of intentional communities, and links to recent articles, co-housing and gerontology organizations, and experts on the topics. For another introduction to ministry with seniors, see our feature article "Growing Old Gracefully." You might also appreciate resource suggestions in "Best Resources on Spiritual Practices" and "Take Action: Community Engagement."

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