According to an article in the "Answers" book for the Orange County, California Council on Aging, four million American women now live in households with at least two women over the age of 50.
Why Women are Alone as They Age
More than one-third of women over the age of 65 now live alone. The reasons for this could be the death of a spouse, divorce, or the fact that they never married.
On average, women live about five years longer than men. In addition, women often marry men who are older than they are ... which means that some women may live a decade or longer after their husbands die.
Another issue is that there has been a huge increase in gray divorce. Since 1990, the divorce rate for people over the age of 50 has doubled, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research.
Advantages of Senior Roommates
When women decide to enter a house sharing arrangement, they can both benefit in several ways.
* Financially, people supporting themselves on fixed incomes can live more comfortably if they share the cost of housing, utilities and other expenses.
* The added security of having another person in the home can be one more advantage of having a roommate.
* Socialization is an additional reason for finding a roommate. It is easy for people to become isolated, lonely and depressed as they age. People who live with an amicable friend will always have someone to talk to, eat with, and sometimes they will do other things together ... such as attending movies or traveling.
Is Having a Roommate Right for You?
Not everyone actually wants to have a roommate close to them all the time. You need to know yourself, and evaluate the home you will be sharing. Will you have enough personal, private space? Are you flexible? Do you have a lot of allergies, health problems or food preferences which could make it difficult for you to live with other people?
What Guidelines Need to be Put in Writing?
If you are planning to live with another person, it may go better if the two of you put your expectations in writing and discuss them first. Below are some issues your agreement may need to cover:
* Decide in advance specifically how the expenses will be shared. Will one person be the landlord and the other the tenant, or will everything be split right down the middle?
* Decide who will perform which household tasks and how often ... cleaning, cooking, dishes, yardwork, etc.
* Decide if the two of you are going to cook and eat together or if you will each be responsible for your own meals.
* Reach an agreement about pets ... if they are allowed, what kind, how large, where they will be kept, etc.
* Discuss grandchildren with each other. Will they be allowed to spend the night, how often, where they will sleep, etc.
* Discuss other relatives, such as adult children, and whether they will be allowed to spend the night.
* Discuss dating and whether your dates will be allowed to spend the night.
* Discuss personal habits such as smoking and drinking.
* If either of you have strong religious or political opinions that could be the source of arguments, you should consider that before making a decision about whether or not you want to live with this person.
* Discuss other expectations such as entertaining friends, relying on each other to do the shopping, what time the house should be quiet, using earphones to watch TV, when you could each practice playing your musical instruments, etc.
* Discuss healthcare preferences with each other, in the event of a medical emergency. Also make sure you both have contact information for relatives, employers, lawyers or other people who would need to be contacted in the event of death or serious illness.
As you can see, there are a large number of issues to consider before you decide if you and your roommate will be compatible. Everything should be put in writing after you have talked about it. This will reduce confusion about what you both agreed to.
How to Find a Roommate
In many cases, you may already know someone who is looking for a roommate because they recently lost a spouse or experienced a financial setback. However, before bringing up the topic with them, ask yourself how well you think you will get along with that person. Do they have personal habits that you find irritating? Even someone who talks too much or too loudly can become irritating after a while.
If you are thinking about getting a senior roommate, you can visit the National Shared Housing website for additional help.
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