Most adults will remember time spent in their youth sharing living accommodations as students or young workers in order to save money. With nearly 7.5 million senior women and 2.6 million senior men single in America today, co-housing is gaining popularity among the older set. Most single seniors live on a fixed income and could benefit not only from help with household chores but the regular social interaction that comes with having a housemate.
Older adults often find once their nest is empty and if they are without a partner, living alone is not the golden years they envisioned. Nearly one third of seniors over the age of 65 are single and this segment of older adults can be expected to grow as baby boomers enter retirement age. Neighborhoods are often quiet while adults are at work and children are in school and it can be difficult for seniors aging in place to feel a sense of community.
While there are custom-built co-housing communities popping up throughout the United States and Canada, home sharing can also be done privately between families and friends or with the help of an agency. Seniors who have children that are scattered, sometimes around the world for their careers, are more and more counting on each other to support their aging in place plan.
Not everyone is cut out for sharing accommodations but for many elderly people who are not interested in a retirement community, it’s the answer to continue living independently while sharing housework and expenses as well as offering both company and security. As our older population continues to grow while living longer, the cost of long-term may well exceed most seniors’ retirement savings. For many, it will take some creative thinking to live well in older age and home sharing is just one outside-the-box alternative.
In many cases, women who find themselves without a life partner are pioneering this housing model that meets their needs both financially and socially. Many divorced or widowed women are left with a large home to care for that can become an overwhelming burden without help to maintain. Taking in a roommate or two can be the answer to their dilemma and in time, a lifelong friendship may be forged.
UPDATE: This home-share toolkit may provide information and a guide for those considering home-sharing: http://burlingtonagefriendly.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/The-HomeShare-Toolkit-Final.pdf