Due to the high cost of care and retirement communities many older adults are opting to age in place for as long as possible! Aging in place is a viable option under the right conditions and if done properly it has many obvious positives. However, living potentially alone and lacking socialization is often a downside. So how can one balance cost, preferences, and have some daily socialization support? Remember the Golden Girls? Well many older adults are now following in their steps by home sharing...
Home sharing is becoming a more viable option explored by older adults as it often ticks off all the boxes!
So what is home sharing?
Home sharing is when two or more unrelated individuals arrange to live in the same house, condo, or apartment. They will have their own distinct and private living space within the residence along with shared common spaces. Every home sharing situation is obviously going to be a little different. The home sharing individuals need to have a distinct and detailed agreement on terms in place to ensure clarity and safety for all. These terms should also be based on their expressed wishes, needs, and preferences. Home sharing is a creative, out of the box way for older adults to meet their housing, budget, and socialization support needs. When costs are shared funds go further!
So what are the risks and benefits of home sharing?
There are many benefits to home sharing if done properly:
1. Having a roommate can defray costs and financial burden as living in a care community can be very costly and not possible for someone their terms.
2. Home sharing can help someone who wants to remain in their home be able to based again on cost sharing!
3. Socialization support and daily interaction is critical for all individuals. Living alone can lead to loneliness, isolation, withdrawal, injury, negative mood changes, and an early cognitive downturn.
4. There is often a sense of safety in numbers! And in the case of an emergency it is good to have someone else on site! This can lead to more timely access to care in an emergency too!
5. Intergenerational aspects can be also of benefit as many younger individuals are now seeking out living with older adults for lower cost and better quality environments. Medical students, nursing students, graduate students will sometimes arrange for living in an older adults home in exchange for providing support such as yard work, chores, errands, transportation, etc. It is often nice to have a younger person on hand to help in this regard and for socialization support. However, always proceed with caution to avoid elder financial fraud- ensure all candidates vetted properly including statewide criminal background checks.
6. If you are a LGBT individual, have limited family support, and have struggled to find an inclusive care situation, this can be a wonderful way to grow your social network, decrease costs, and provide support while having the right person in your home or by sharing someones home.
So what are the down sides?
1. Adjustment and privacy can be a problem for some individuals. if you are person who is not social or has lived on your own for awhile the transition to home sharing may be difficult. It may be even stressful or lead to conflict.
2. Problems can also occur if clear guidelines are not set prior to home sharing. To avoid conflict and confrontations ensure that clear written guidelines are in place for chores, pets, cleaning and level of cleanliness, over night guests, etc. Having set guidelines and transparent communication before home sharing is critical!
3. Be true to yourself and your way of being before moving forward. If you have specific preferences or standards state them! Do not think that you can make the best of it or change to accommodate others as this will lead surely to conflict and unhappiness.
4. Do proper vetting before moving forward. You want home sharing to enhance your life and decrease financial worry not lead to heartache! If you have a home share partner who does not pay the rent or other expenses this will lead to issues. If you are a home owner you are going to be still responsible for your bills and need to have a safety plan in place prior to home sharing to protect yourself and minimize lability. Plan well and then move forward!
Along the way- Plan Well Balancing the Positives and Negatives!!
Proper planning is everything! Have a solid home share agreement in place before moving forward! This is critical! Ensure that all obligations and responsibilities are outlined clearly, including, maintenance, upkeep, rent amount including deposit, and the due date each month. Remember to have an eviction or termination clause and notice to move out specifics. Ensure that you also state information about house guests, smoking, pets, cleanliness aspects. Every agreement is gyn to be slightly different based on preferences, etc.
So where does someone start if interested in beginning this process?
See the following resources and sources below:
Senior Homeshare - Senior Homeshare is an online service specifically for older adults. They match elders who have more home than they need or can afford with elders on a fixed income who are looking for safe, affordable housing. Access to their database is free.
Airbnb: Airbnb has been used by some active older adults as a second income and socialization support - to have intermittent guests, socialization and income to help with costs. Airbnb is also supporting Home Sharing Clubs "to help hosts come together to advocate for fair home sharing laws in their communities." They now have more than 100 Clubs operating in communities around the world. "This growing network of hosts, guests, small business owners, and local community leaders is leading the way in demonstrating how home sharing benefits neighborhoods around the world."
Silvernest- Silvernest uses a matching tool to link prospective house share individuals. This is all based on information from each candidates custom profile created. The service is free to use if you are looking for a home to move to. Homeowners, however, pay $29.99 to communicate with potential home share matches. The $29.99 includes unlimited communication between homeowners and their matches for up to three months. Silvernest is specifically for empty nesters and baby boomers.
Roommates 4 Boomers- This service is specifically designed for women aged 50 and over and connects boomer women who are searching for a roommate to share their home. This is a free service.
The Golden Girls Network- The Golden Girls Network is a nationwide electronic database links older adults with similar housemates.There is a minimal fee for using their site.
Some individuals also use university and community bulletin boards as a way to spread the work, but be careful when doing this and vet all candidates well!