Janet and Gil Gasparini were part of the group of 4 couples that initiated a senior cohousing project in Sudbury.
We have been friends for over 30 years and have talked about cohousing for a very long time – starting when our children were young and realizing that many things about family life would be easier with closer proximity to each other. As we aged and started to experience the aging out of our parents, we realized that we wanted a different environment for ourselves.
In our early 30’s we were introduced to a group of friends through an experience that was based in a community building model. The lessons we learned about community and being really committed to one and another have stuck with us for over 30 years. We have lived through many incredibly happy and some very sad experiences together and the support and love that we have benefitted from has confirmed for us that it is possible to create a sustainable model of living in a very connected way. We see these connections as being the mechanism that will ensure we age out in a safe, caring environment that will support us to the end of our lives.
We have done a lot of research on cohousing including a visit to Vancouver Island in 2019 where we attended a workshop designed to determine if cohousing was for us. Research now shows that loneliness and isolation are more detrimental to your health as you age than smoking or poor diet. While we likely won’t start to smoke and will continue to eat well, we will have the perfect antidote to the new “quiet killers!” Society has evolved to the point where individuals are encouraged to manage on their own. Your own family unit might be the extent of your close relationships. Learning to let others in at a deeper level, going further than polite banter – actually coming to care about others and let others care about you is important.
Given our early experience with building community, we actually look forward to expanding that circle. We are now retired and this felt like a natural progression from our work. We enjoyed the stimulation of working on the project in retirement and meeting new people in the process.