We live in a society that over time has become more and more individualistic, at least in the urban sphere: everyone cares about their own life and that of their immediate environment, but we have lost the sense of community and of union with others. we.
This tendency towards individualism is gradually becoming more noticeable to us, and over time alternative lifestyles and models of life have emerged which, in theory, attempt to generate community. Cohabitation is an example, Which we will talk about throughout this article.
What is cohabitation or cohabitation?
It is known as cohabitation, or in Spanish cohabitatge, a a model or style of community that involves the creation of a self-managed community in which coexistence focuses on the community and cooperation with other members of it.
Based on solidarity with the rest of the community and with a democratically functioning organization, it is a type of organization that it involves the generation of a socio-community support network in which there is great cohesion among the people who are part of it.
This type of community is generally set up around one or (more commonly), several detached houses or buildings with different shared common areas where social and community life takes place. Each of the users or inhabitants of a cohabitation is an integral part of this community and also has the responsibility to participate in its management.
Although the name may sound the opposite, the cohabitation this does not necessarily imply that they all live in the same house and without any privacy: although there are cases in which they are built and coexist in multi-family dwellings, in general each individual or family has their own accommodation.
Each member of this community has their own personal and financial autonomy. However, sometimes in such societies the economic system may tend to reduce or eliminate the idea of private property to favor the collective (although its economy is not shared), and trade based on exchange or on the other hand. low cost of services.
Main characteristics of cohabitation
One of the main bases of a cohabitation is that it rests, as we have seen above, on solidarity and in the search for social cohesion and active participation in the community.
Another of them is durability, because it is based on a design directly designed for the use that will be provided to each of the spaces. In addition, it makes it possible to use and resume life in sparsely populated or abandoned areas, to be able to use these communities these areas, to remodel them and to live there (which also makes it possible to recover or maintain living the history of these places).
It is also common for community spaces to be located elements that allow the management and production of own resources, such as orchards.
In addition to this, as one of the most relevant bases of cohabitation, we can cite how to organize and make decisions. There is no hierarchical structure (although it is possible for an individual to take a leadership role in certain aspects in which he or she decides to specialize).
The relationship with houses can vary. The most common is that the houses are not the property of the individual, but of the community, of which the user has the usufruct for life, and are designed or adapted to the needs of the subject. In this sense, they have the advantage that they do not involve as high an economic expense as maintaining their own home.
Finally, it reduces problems such as loneliness and the need for care without losing its independence at the individual level, while generating a culture of collaboration and a common bond among members of society.
Implementation in the elderly: senior cohabitation
Cohabitation is a trend which, although little known, is gradually becoming more popular. Its history is not so recent: its most modern origins date back to the 1960s, more precisely in Denmark, Hence it was growing in the Nordic countries and the United States. Since then, different modalities have emerged, one of the most widespread today (at least in Spain) concerns the elderly.
In senior cohabitation, the inhabitants of the community are people over 55 years old. The reason why the popularity of this type of community organization has increased in this sector is the existence of two of the most painful scars that a large number of seniors can face: loneliness and, in the case of those with limited resources, poverty.
Many people turn to cohabitation because it allows them to maintain an organization based on solidarity and social cohesion, as well as significantly reduce the economic cost of maintaining a house or rent today.
And not only that: one of the social implications of this type of cohabitation is that a paternalistic view of old age is set aside, Where the elder himself was considered a rather passive subject. Instead, the activity of the elderly person is promoted as someone with the experience and the need to participate in the world around them, giving them the responsibility and the possibility of performing different types of social functions. according to the needs of the community.
- Banford, G. (2005). Cohabitation for the elderly: innovation in housing in the Netherlands and Denmark. Australasian Journal of Aging, 24 (1): 44-46.
- George, V. (2006). Sustainable Community Review: Learning from the Cohabitation Model. Community Development Journal, núm. 41 (3): 393-398.
- McCamant, K. and Durrett, C. (1989). Cohabitation: a contemporary approach to ourselves. Berkeley, University of California Press.
- Rosa Jiménez, CL, Marquez Ballesteros, MJ, Navas Carrillo, D. (2017). Towards a new management and self-financing model for the regeneration of obsolete neighborhoods. Cities, 20: 45-70.