A growing number of older adults and baby boomers are rebelling against the threat of spending their final years alone, wondering who will take care of them, and perhaps ending life in a conventional nursing home. Finally, a truly new alternative living arrangement is emerging: the elder self-directed intentional community (ESC), which puts choice into the hands of the older adults themselves, allowing them to proactively choose how and where they will live their later years, as well as with whom they will grow old, in a close-knit community where neighbors look after each other. It is a radical “do-it-yourself” approach in which older adults themselves envision and implement the ESCs with no administrator telling them what they can or cannot do. Thus far, at least four ESCs have recently opened (as of 2010), and these early ESCs have each adapted the cohousing model, which is designed to foster a sense of community. ESCs are likely to take many different forms and attract diverse populations.
Older adults consistently indicate a preference to live in their own homes. The ESC provides the potential opportunity to carry out this wish within a community of friends, while adding a supplemental layer of support not commonly found in the average neighborhood. Typically, most caregiving responsibilities have fallen upon family members, but many older adults choose not to depend on their children for their care. An increasing number, especially among baby boomers, have no children. ESC residents can maintain a sense of independence throught a self-designed interdependence and sense of community by intentionally choosing the group of individuals with whom they will age.