Alternative Title

How elders living in the Treehouse Community together with foster children and their families continue or expand the quality of meaning making in their everyday lives

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Older people-Social conditions, Children and older people, Intergenerational relations, Meaning (Psychology), Foster parents-Social conditions, Foster children-Social conditions, Treehouse Community (Easthampton, Mass.), Older adults, Elders, Intentional intergenerational communities, Foster children, Interdependence, Gerontology, Aging in place, Communal, Social isolation, Personhood, Social participation, Activity, Isolation, Community, Participatory action research, Flexible method


This qualitative study examined the oldest members of The Treehouse Community in western Massachusetts which is an intentional intergenerational community. Within this study 10 older adults living in the community participated in either a community held event or one-on-one interviews describing their felt life experiences before and after moving to Treehouse. Most of the participants made it clear that they did not show up at Treehouse looking for something to occupy their time. Rather this model which supports foster families and their children through an intergenerational lens corresponds with their life work, whether it be they had worked in child development earlier on in their career or some other form of social services.

The intent of this study was to raise awareness around models of communal living that support marginalized members of the community and challenge professionals to discover ways to find affordable living options for people at every stage of their life. Because the intentional intergenerational model has limited exposure to the world of research it is imperative that the professional community continues to track the experience and outcomes of these communities. In addition, it is critical that the field of social work take the growing number of older adults into account and offer curricula to students as to how we can address their social needs, and to do so from a critical gerontoloigcal lens and not from a cultural norm.




iv, 74 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-66)

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Social Work Commons