Margaret Critchlow

Margaret Critchlow

Changing the way we live as we age

Non-profit organization dedicated to changing the way seniors live

Living in a seniors’ home amongst strangers with no real connection to friends and family is not a place many people want to go. Unfortunately that is the scenario for many folks who have neither the resources or the options of living any differently as they age.

Isolation, loneliness, depression and health problems are commonplace for many seniors. As they lose their friends and families due to distance or death seniors often find it hard to cope with no support network around them. It’s not where this generation of seniors see themselves. Today’s seniors are active, involved and healthier than their parents were and they do want to remain in control of their life.

Back in the 1960s and 70s when communes were the utopia and everything seemed possible, many took on that social experiment. Most communes failed for many reasons, one of them being the necessity of earning a living while raising a family, another was the need for privacy.

Today many of those same people, who considered the idea of communal living, are actually getting it together and creating their own community/neighbourhood.

“Our generation is always in control,” says Margaret Critchlow, one of the co-founders of Canadian Senior Cohousing. “We’re doing things differently.”

By differently, Critchlow means “intentional housing,” a system where people live together but not under the same roof.

“Studies have shown that social support makes all the difference, a social connection keeps people going and you don’t get that in nursing homes,” said Critchlow.

“We plan financially and we should be planning socially.”

Critichlow, along with Gail Abernethy and about 30 others have formed Canadian Senior Cohousing, a study group looking at alternative ways of living in a community of their own creation.

She sees this happening in Sooke or the general area in the not-too-distant future. The group wants to start living in intentional neighbourhoods as soon as they find the right property. Each of the members would have their own own home (size dependent on what they can afford) and share a more common space such as a larger main building.

There are many examples across the world, the concept itself began in Europe and has spread to North America. There are now seniors’ cohousing projects all across British Columbia in places like Bowen Island, Courtenay, Victoria, Nelson and the Sunshine Coast. California, Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico also embrace the concept.

“It is not just a ghetto of older people,” said Critchlow. “You start when you are young(er), it’s not an old folks’ place.”

The neighbourhood Critchlow envisions is not cheap. The units would likely sell for about $300-$350,000 and work as a strata with the land, a common house, and gardens. She sees it as being as “green” as possible.

“It’s not a whacko idea,” she said.

It’s also an economical one as studies have shown that people living in such arrangements remain in their own homes eight to 10 years longer. This could potentially save the government approx. $50,000 per year per person.

“If you are looking at 20 units, suddenly that’s a lot of money,” said Critchlow. “Look what it could do for a place like Sooke.”

To accomplish some of their goals, mainly good communication, the group is hosting a 10-week study group.

“Seniors get such a bad rap, we want to be elders and we are redefining what elders are,” she said. “We want to share what we have learned.

The 10-week study group will examine a whole range of issues such as: arriving at  a consensus, conflict resolution, the economics of getting older, realities of getting older, co-healing and aging in place and community, the philosophy of aging, and a whole lot of other appropriate topics.

The meetings will be facilitated by Margaret Critchlow and Andrew Moore.

Both have been trained by Charles Durrett, author of The Senior Cohousing Handbook. Critchlow is a anthropologist  who has lived in the South Pacific where she learned the value of community and mutual support. Living in an intentional community has been a dream of hers for a long time.

Gail Abernethy is an osteopath and has lived in an intentional community in London.

Andrew Moore is Abernethy’s partner and is an architect as well as a community developer. He currently works with the T’Sou-ke First Nation Band.

“He worked as the manager of a rock band,” said Critchlow, “which may be the most useful skill.”

For now the group is seeking the right property, one where nature takes centre stage, and where it is easy to get to services.

“We are giving a lot of thought to this, we’re going very carefully and our eyes are open on this,” Critchlow stated.

For more information on the 10-week study group Active Aging in Community, email: seniorcohousing@gmail.com or check out the website at: www.seniorcohousing.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Const. Mat Jones of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined a team of Saanich police officers and ICBC representatives cracking down on distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
‘Leave the phone alone’: 40 distracted driving tickets issued in two hours at Saanich intersection

Saanich police, CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit crackdown on drivers’ cell-phone use

Cleanup happens after an overnight flood Monday damaged areas of the Oaklands Community Centre. (Facebook/Oaklands Community Association)
Greater Victorians offer flood of support to Oaklands Community Centre

Blown hot water tank Monday night leaves staff cleaning up soggy mess

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

Victoria police are investigating after a person broke into and stole a vehicle from a Douglas Street car dealership on the morning of March 3. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Suspect sought after vehicle swiped from Victoria dealership

Suspect broke into Douglas Street dealership shortly before 5 a.m.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Intiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read