Grau ist bunt
Henning Scherf, a retired Mayor of Bremen has recounted in his book, 'Gray Is Colourful,' doing volunteer work while sharing a common living arrangement with five friends for the past 19 years.
Defying doomsday scenarios of a graying, dying society, Henning calls on the 'younger old' to volunteer, be it 'reading to first graders' or 'taking care of grandchildren'.
He asks the question :
"Why can't 60- to 80-year-olds take over tasks that give them a goal in life and, at the same time, take off some of the burden of younger generations?" He answers that 'common housing' is the ideal platform to do this.
The town of Darmstadt has one of the communities recommended by Henning called, 'Living With Meaning', with residents aged from 1 to 77. Once a fringe phenomenon, multigenerational households like this have been popping up in Germany over the past few years. By design, they place old men and women side by side with young families in housing arrangements guided by a philosophy of 'voluntarily helping one another'. These communities stand out in a country where young and old often live separately in different neighbourhoods but increasingly, multigenerational living is seen as part of the solution to one of German society's greatest challenges:
'What are we going to do with more and more old men and women ?'