The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University estimates that between 2015 and 2035, the number of people over the age of 75 who are living alone will nearly double from 6.9 million to 13.4 million. According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, people want to age in place. In their latest survey, 8 out of 10 people over 65 want to stay in their own homes or a home environment as long as possible. With rising health care and housing costs as well as the fact that people are living longer lives, homesharing is becoming quite popular.
Homesharing sounds like what it is: multiple people sharing one home. In some cases, an older adult might choose to live with other people their age. A senior might also choose to live with a young adult who rents a room in the older person’s house for a low dollar amount in exchange for help with chores or car rides to places like a doctor’s office.
There are benefits to living with other people, such as companionship, cost savings, a feeling of security by having someone else around, and sharing chores to maintain the house and yard. There’s also someone there to know if you fall or hurt yourself, and who can help you out a little when you’re sick. Older adults who live together often live a healthier lifestyle because they are more social, exercise more, and typically eat better.
While homesharing sounds like a great option, it does have its drawbacks. There’s less privacy, you need to deal with someone else’s odd habits, and you often have to compromise. There’s also the financial liability if a roommate doesn’t pay their portion of the bills.
There are several websites that help older adults find people the same age to live with. Some of them charge a fee, others don’t. There’s one that matches seniors who have a bigger home than they need (or can afford) with seniors on a fixed income looking for affordable housing. Some even match you with potential housemates using a detailed profile that you fill out. There are also apps online that pair older people with students looking for affordable housing.
Being socially isolated can affect a person’s health. Research has shown that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015). Homesharing is a creative way to fix the social isolation of living alone.