Aging Out Together

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.

“It’s About Having An Open Mind”

Stan and Pauline joined Silver Birth Village right from the get go. They wanted to find an ageing out solution that involved being around friends who look out for one another.

Stan and I have been part of the Silver Birch Village cohousing group from the very first information session almost 2 years ago. 

As a group, we met for a monthly potluck meal for the first 3 months before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by virtual meetings once or twice a month depending on developments.  

We have and still are enjoying getting to know one another on a deeper level as well as sharing honest opinions without judgment.  

The first time we heard of the cohousing concept, we were very much attracted to the INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY concept and what it represented.  For us, that seemed to be a good lifestyle option after the unpleasant and painful experience Stan’s mom went through after she suffered a bad fall where she broke her arm and was consequently told by her care provider that she would no longer be able to live on her own for health reasons.

She was forced to sell her house in the little town of Larder Lake where she had lived for the past 45 years and  move in with us.  We loved having her close to us and although we did our best to make her feel at home, she missed her friends, her little house and she felt lonely and isolated as Stan and I were still working at the time and unable to keep her company. 

She was with us for 8 months then she moved into her own little apartment in an elderly assisted living building, although we did our best to visit her often, she did not adapt well to her new lifestyle.  She felt isolated in a strange place and as a timid 81 years old, did not make new friends easily and her health deteriorated quickly thereafter.

That unpleasant experience forced us to start asking ourselves the tough questions and look for better solutions other than being dependent on our children when we get to the age where we need extra support.

So, for us the concept of cohousing with friends, looking out for friends seems the perfect solution for us.  Stan and I are very much aware that being part of such a community requires an open mind, respect for differences of opinions and participation. 

We believe that our values are in line with the requirements needed to co-exist in such a community.

It’s About Building A Community

For the past two year’s SVB members Ann and Chris Frampton have helped grow our group and continue to enjoy the process of building Sudbury’s cohousing community. Read more about why they joined Silver Birch Village.

Many of us are part of great communities. The neighbourhoods we live in, the groups we belong to and encourage others to join, are all part of our community.

Building community is not a new concept. Lots of people are building community every day whether at work or at play. We are building a community at Silver Birch Village – a Cohousing Community for older folks like ourselves. 

We never really thought about being “older folks” but now that we are in our mid 60’s we are those people. How did we get here so fast? Will the next 10 to 20 years go as quickly where we will find ourselves in our 70 and 80’s? 

Our parents ended up in nursing homes and they were not happy about it all. They also passed without their loved ones with them. The physical care that they received was adequate but the social and emotional care was just not there. 

They did not make new friends and relied on family, most of whom were sandwiched between growing children, working fulltime and caring for aging parents. We were sometimes overwhelmed and experienced feelings of doubt and guilt about not being able to provide more. We have thought a lot about our parents’ journey and we want to plan now for what our story will be and not leave it up to our children to decide for us.  

For the past two years,  we became very involved in the Silver Birch Village cohousing project. After attending a “Is Cohousing for you?”  workshop and visiting a number of cohousing complexes on the west coast where the concept is already very popular. 

Being part of growing a community starting from the ground up, has been interesting and fun. Downsizing our living space and planning for what we vision for our next stage in life has been exciting for us and provides a sense of safety and security. This project has been the right fit for us in our retirement and we are really enjoying the process. There is nothing more gratifying than working with an energetic group of likeminded people with a shared vision of moving forward and getting the job done. 

Our group is currently 13 interested households who meet regularly to plan and make decisions on a multitude of things that go into creating a cohousing community. One of the many things that we like about the community is the decision-making process our community uses. 

Consensus Decision Making is one of the many concepts that we have trained and learned about as members which works very well in getting us to where we need to be. The process encourages all voices to be heard as opposed to only the loudest ones, with lots of opportunity for discussion. It does take some work and preparation on the part of the members, but when the group is as committed to making things work as we are, it is easy.

If you are interested in learning more about an aging strategy that includes co-caring of your neighbours, that will combat loneliness, where your voice will be heard and where you will make new friends who do fun things, then check out our website at

Upcoming Events

The members of Silver Birch Village meet on a monthly basis to continue our planning for the purchase of our land, and the design and construction of our complex.

If you think you might be interested in Cohousing and would like to meet, please contact us. Pandemic restrictions means that we are meeting via Zoom, but we’d love to meet with you, even if it’s virtually.


Introduction to Cohousing Zoom Meeting

You are invited a one hour Introduction to Cohousing information session via zoom with the choice of a morning or evening time slot. Join us to learn more about what our group is all about and the exciting things we have been doing to move our project closer to completion!

When: Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Optional Times:

Session One: 11:00 a.m. with Janet and Carmen

Session Two: 7:00 p.m. with Ann and Peter

To register for the session, email Ann at