Cohousing – a Win/win Situation for Seniors

May 11, 2018

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

 

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘roommates’? College, right? Wild times, parties, cram study sessions, oh, memory brings so much more to the fore… But another age category has been appropriating the roommate setup all of a sudden.

As the US population grows older, it is also known to be growing healthier and more active. The nursing home or assisted living facilities are no longer a feasible option for grandmas and grandpas, until it becomes an absolute necessity. Even the best facilities have a tinge of sadness to them, and more seniors today than ever before are refusing to give up on their lives just because they’ve reached a certain biological age. Some are still running in the marathon and climbing mountains or taking college classes and tango lessons.

The issue that may require some rethinking on their part is the need for company – in case of those seniors who are living alone. It may be a perfectly satisfying and safe setup for some, but others may want company at their place of residence for various reasons.

  • First of all, some people are more communicative than others, and just having someone to chat with is already an uplifting fact for them. Of course, if you’ve been craving some silence for decades, and are finally enjoying it – good for you!
  • Secondly, a person may have certain health issues that are not severe enough to require living under supervision at an assisted living facility, yet it would be advisable for them to be cohabitating with someone, so that if help is needed, it’s easily available – even if it’s just to make a phone call to the doctor.

Advantages of cohousing

This is where co-housing comes in. The concept seems to be on the surface, yet it is only now gaining ground and spreading beyond the few and far between cases. Why is this a growing trend? Well, for the apparent benefits that it provides. Staying social is a positive factor health-wise; it has been proven that loneliness and the depression often associated with it have a pronounced negative effect on health. Thus, having an extra support system in the shape of friends/roommates is definitely a welcome part of life for many people. There is always the issue of habits, privacy, etc., but if college students manage to figure it out somehow, you’d think older adults, who’ve grown wise from their extensive experience, will certainly be able to find compromises as well, right?

  • The benefits of living together with other people of your age include easing the financial burden on the roommates as far as housing fees, which is actually very significant for some people.
  • Other financial issues that may also be alleviated to a certain extent include food expenditures (if cooking is shared), utility bills, transportation (i.e. car sharing is an option).
  • Maintaining a shared garden is more viable than tending to one on your own, having coffee with a friend a few steps away, rather than a half-hour bus ride away is certainly easier. Shared meals are not just more affordable, but also more pleasant.
  • Emotionally, it’s a place to both receive and provide support, and both sides of the coin are crucial to psychological well-being.

There were 13 co-housing communities in the United States in 2017, and 13 more under construction, with many more in plans. They provide a shared space for active seniors, something that was lacking from the spectrum for a long time. More social ties lead to longer lives, so why not take advantage of what is now a scientific fact and consider this option as the transition step into the later age?

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