Living in Residential Communities

Altwerden in Gemeinschaft – Becoming old in Community:

New perspectives for needs-based living:

Austria’s demographic aging is increasingly facing a challenge: there are currently 278 employable persons between the ages of 15 and under 65 for 100 people over the age of 65 – in 2050 there will only be 181 (see Statistik Austria 2018, 3). The societal support potential for the elderly will thus decrease considerably in the future. Against this background, two-thirds of the Austrian population express fear of social isolation in old age (see Silver Living 2017). Shared living arrangements form a hopeful alternative design.

In the city of Salzburg, four projects have been implemented so far on the initiative of the association „Christian living community for people in the second half of life“, where senior citizens live side by side and support each other in everyday life on the basis of their faith: two of them Projects are part of a larger residential area with different functions (St. Hildegard in Gneiss and St. Raphael in Aigen), for the other two an independent residential complex was built (St. Anthony in Itzling and St. Nicholas in Taxham). Overall, the association currently looks after 48 individual apartments for individuals and couples. Each of the four communities also shares a space for social activities.

Within the scope of the research program „Altwerden in Gemeinschaft“, the ifz introduces the various actors of the Christian residential communities and compares their practical experiences with the concept. Three topics are the focus here:

– Which values ​​and expectations are associated with participation in a (Christian) living community?
– How is living together perceived in practice and which reasons play a role in this?
– What distinguishes a well-balanced relationship between closeness and distance, and what are the challenges of living in a common home?

The results of the interview-based study are expected to contribute to the development of a guide to support the design and realization of future projects targeting community living and social security in old age, based on Christian spirituality or other lifestyles.


Silver Living (2017). Angst vor Einsamkeit im Alter ist weit verbreitet, URL (Zugriff 07.03.2019).

Statistik Austria (2018). Bevölkerungs‐und Erwerbsprognose bis 2080 für Österreich und die Bundesländer, URL (Zugriff 07.03.2019).