It may have started with “The Golden Girls,” the 1980s sitcom featuring the lives and interactions of four older women with diverse backgrounds who have become roommates.
Many seniors who are living on Social Security or retirement benefits may find it difficult to maintain the living situation they had during their working years. In an increasingly expensive world, living on a fixed income comes with challenges – in particular, the expense and maintenance of maintaining their current living arrangement.
In recent years, senior house-sharing has been gaining popularity as an affordable arrangement. Finding senior roommates to share the cost of housing in a traditional home can avoid the costs of nursing homes or other care facilities.
Saving money on shared expenses is a major upside to senior home-sharing. Older adults opting to live together can save on rent, groceries, utilities, transportation and everyday expenses.
The loss of a spouse or a decreasing social network can leave a senior socially isolated. Having another person at home provides help when needed, as in the case of falling or needing medical care or assisting with household responsibilities, which makes independent living possible by eliminating a few of the hazards of being alone.
A recent government study reports the increasing social isolation among seniors has several risk factors, depression and failing health among them. A roommate can reduce the feelings of social isolation and possibly provide a meaningful friendship.
As independent living becomes more challenging, the roommate option can be increasingly attractive, enabling people to stay in their homes and find interesting companions.
Keep in mind not all roommates are good ones. A contractual arrangement should be required with an escape clause in the event things do not work out. Every potential roommate should be thoroughly evaluated with background checks.
The more information you have about that person can save you time and money in the future should the living arrangement not work out.
Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee.
This column appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.