Cohousing can benefit both older adults, young families

Intergenerational cohousing in which residents share meals and chores not only can benefit older adults but also aid young families who may need help from their neighbors when juggling work and family, said Lisa Berkman, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy, Epidemiology, and Global Health and Population and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Berkman was interviewed on PBS NewsHour Weekend on February 12, 2017.

Singles, couples, retirees, and families with children living in a shared community can help counter negative effects of social isolation, Berkman said. “People who are very isolated, who are disconnected, have a mortality rate that’s about three times as high. That is, they’re about three times as likely to die over maybe a decade, as people who have many, many more ties,” she said.

The PBS NewsHour Weekend program features life at Saettedammen, a 46-year-old cohousing community in Denmark. The Cohousing Association of America estimates there are about 150 such communities in the U.S., according to the program.

Watch the PBS NewsHour Weekend story: Cohousing communities help prevent social isolation

Learn more

Living Longer and Happier Lives: The Science Behind Healthy Aging (Harvard Chan Forum)