Return of the Golden Girls: How Seniors are Creating Community

Baby boomers opt for group living as they age.

Baby boomers opt for group living as they age

The first village model began in 2002 in Beacon Hill, a neighborhood of Boston, according to Candace Baldwin, the Village to Village Network's director of strategy for aging in community. Since then, 115 villages have opened throughout the country, serving more than 20,000 older Americans. At least 120 villages are in development, she says.

"It's a very interesting movement of people who are really coming together in community-based organizations that they are creating," Smith-Sloan says.

Of course, plenty of challenges can come up as people navigate new living arrangements, particularly when sharing a home. "You have to match your personalities," says Goyer, who recommends setting house rules and routine meetings to air any issues. Once people adjust, "they tend to really like the sense of community," she says.

[Read: Plant a Garden. Grow a Community.]

And many boomers have the generation's characteristic spunk to chart a new course.

As Kilkenny says,"We're gonna do this, and if you want to bring your husband, your dog, and your cow or whatever, do it. Don't wait."

For her part, she's already reaped the benefits of communal living. Not long after moving into her new home, Kilkenny fell again – this time over a tree root outside the house. But this time, she heard, "Marianne, are you OK?" coming from the house window. "I didn't have to get up myself. I didn't have to toddle over to the refrigerator," Kilkenny says. "She was out there in a flash to help me. What a difference."

[See: 11 Health Habits That Will Help You Live to 100.]

For more information about communal living, visit Kilkenny's website and a couple that she recommends: The Blueprint of WE and Let's Share Housing! Other resources include AARP, Village to Village Network and The Cohousing Association of the United States.