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Pros and Cons of Senior "Co-Housing", Like The Golden Girls

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Pros and Cons of Senior "Co-Housing", Like The Golden Girls

    Right now I'm thinking if something ever happened to my husband, I would want to stay living in our home although I would be alone. I don't think I would want another woman to live with me for company or financial reasons, but I don't know how I'll feel in the future and I try to 'never say never'. More here.

    Picture it: A hit 1980s sitcom in which four senior women share a home in Miami. Hilarity ensues, and the world falls for "The Golden Girls." But more than just a beloved television show, the concept on which their wise and friend-first adventures were built is becoming a more common arrangement for regular people to age in place and get the most out of their later years with friends by their side.



    Senior or elderly co-housing "isn't a new concept," says Sue Johansen, vice president of partner services with A Place for Mom, a senior referral service based in Seattle. "But what is new is that people are trying to explore it in different ways. What we're seeing today is that seniors are wanting to stay in their homes longer," with two primary reasons driving that move: socialization and cost-sharing.

    "It's usually the financial piece that's the stronger driver that we've seen," Johansen says. Co-housing offers multiple seniors who'd rather not move into an assisted living community or nursing home another option for staying at home longer while spending less money to keep up a separate household.

    "It allows both the senior who owns the home and others who rent a room to be in an independent environment for longer, to pool resources financially, to live more comfortably and to share an environment with somebody who may face similar challenges."

    Socialization Advantages

    There are lots of reasons why an older adult might find him or herself feeling isolated or lonely. For one, divorce among seniors is on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, since the 1990s, the divorce rate among adults aged 50 and over (so-called "gray divorce") has more than doubled. For others, death leaves the surviving spouse living alone. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 28 percent of people aged 65 or older lived alone when the census was conducted in 2010.

    And these individuals are more likely to be female, given that women's life expectancy is 81.2 years versus 76.4 years for men. (Life expectancy in the U.S. has been following a downward trend over the past several years, with an editorial in The BMJ reporting the cause being despair resulting in increased suicide and substance abuse.)

    Social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher mortality in older adults, and senior co-housing might be an option for alleviating some of this isolation. Simply living with another person or people especially if you have shared experiences or other things in common can provide a wonderful opportunity to socialize and feel part of something bigger than yourself. Who wouldn't want to live with friends? Much like any other shared housing arrangement, this one can yield a new partner or friend with whom to have adventures and good times.

    Disadvantages of Senior Co-Housing

    There can also be a downside to senior co-housing. As with any roommate situation, conflicts can crop up over everything from dishes in the sink to household expenses. And as vexing as such discord can be when you're in your 20s, it may be compounded later in life by health issues and other age-related factors such as cognitive deficits or reduced mobility.

    "The bandwidth of dealing with the ramifications if you get into a bad situation tend to be overwhelming. That's the deterrent that has kept this from being a larger portion of what we're seeing in the marketplace in general," Johansen says.

    One way to reduce the chances of having a bad match is to carefully select your living partners and to set out all expectations clearly and in writing right from the outset. "If they're going to go into a co-housing situation, the homeowner really needs to take the time and expense to get a rental agreement drawn up," Johansen says. That agreement should call out the specific needs that each senior has and wants to ensure are met.

  2. #2
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    That is something I have considered myself. My attempts at having housemates here years ago were not good experiences. Not sure I am up to doing it again.

    But if I were alone, I am not sure it would be financially feasible for me to stay alone. It is a tough decision to make. I have a friend, about 10 years younger than me who has a nice, ranch style home. She broached the subject of my moving there if I were ever alone.
    We have known each other about 30 years. I would be afraid of it not working out and I would hate to hurt our friendship.
    I am anxious to hear what others say
    If there's a Rock and Roll heaven, you know they have a hell of a band.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marie5656 View Post

    But if I were alone, I am not sure it would be financially feasible for me to stay alone. It is a tough decision to make. I have a friend, about 10 years younger than me who has a nice, ranch style home. She broached the subject of my moving there if I were ever alone.

    We have known each other about 30 years. I would be afraid of it not working out and I would hate to hurt our friendship.
    I am anxious to hear what others say
    Marie, our house is ranch style and that's one of the reasons I would like to stay here as long as possible, or until the end. There's only one staircase that leads to the finished basement and laundry room, and it's narrow with banister (and wall) on one side and wall on the other, so it's pretty secure to go up and down.

    It's so nice of your friend to offer that you stay with her rather than live alone, very kind of her, a good friend for sure. I can understand your being hesitant to take her up of the offer though if you were alone, no guarantee it would work out and the friendship may be lost or weakened.

    Guess I would just keep an open mind in having a roommate, but I think it would be more if I needed assistance and help with housework and shopping, rather than just for company. I'd have to really trust the person though, would hate to be taken advantage of or scammed in my old age by someone living under my own roof.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2015
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    I would never want to have a housemate as long as I have someone in the area for emergencies. In my case I have my son and daughter. If I couldn't swing it financially then I'd find someplace more affordable. I'm just to picky and set in my ways to have a housemate. Items in my kitchen moved about. Some ugly vase staring at me everyday. Oh! the horror of it all!

  5. #5
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    Aug 2016
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    I think that it could be a great option for some folks and absolute hell for me.

    I will go it alone for as long as possible then crawl into an assisted living facility and wait impatiently for a ride to the cemetery.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    It could work with the right people.
    But what happens when your too sick to do your share?
    Your back to being at the mercy of the state or your 'well meaning' family.
    Not being negative just being realistic.
    If the seniors children cared about them like they use to before the 1950s and 60s,there would not be so many parents in this kind of situation.
    It is really scary out there now.
    People taking care of Americas elderly are low wage and many of them don't like 'certain' kinds of people.
    wish we had more options about what to do with those who can't do for themselves.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aunt Bea View Post
    I think that it could be a great option for some folks and absolute hell for me.

    I will go it alone for as long as possible then crawl into an assisted living facility and wait impatiently for a ride to the cemetery.

    Me too Aunt Bea! But assisted living is only for those who can basically care for themselves.

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