You may wonder what surfing has to do with home-sharing. I never connected the two myself until I received a phone call from a woman who was looking for a home-share for her parents, who are in their 80s. Whenever I get a call from a family member on behalf of a parent, my first thought is that it may be too late for home-sharing to be an option for them. If it is simply a matter of the mother (as it usually is) being uncomfortable with using technology, that’s one thing; there are lots of ways to find compatible housemates without using the internet. But if the daughter (as it usually is) is calling on behalf of a parent who is needing help in order to stay in their own home, it is unlikely that they will find a peer who is in the position of providing the help needed. And that’s what home sharing “Golden Girls style” is all about: peers sharing with peers – people you like and trust who share a compatible lifestyle with you. Ideally you will become friends.
Fortunately there are a growing number of agencies that can help an older home owner in need of assistance find a younger, able-bodied person to share their home to help them with household tasks or running errands, or even driving them to appointments. I often refer callers to such agencies, who interview the home owner, vet potential home-sharers to find a suitable match, and follow up to make sure the relationship is working. But this will not be peer-to-peer matching; and there will likely be a frequent turnover in home-mates, as the younger person moves on with their life.
And in a situation where the parent has already moved out of their own home and is looking for a new situation quickly, they may have “caught the wave” too late and be in danger of losing control of their situation and “wiping out.” Moving into someone else’s home, as a home-sharer, when one is no longer self-directed, is a tall order! Are they looking for someone to “take them in”? They may more easily move in with a family member or a retirement home, even though that may well not have been their first choice.
So how does one “ride the wave”? One starts early! Often when a 50-something daughter calls on behalf of her 70-something mother, and says “Home-sharing would be perfect for Mom!” I wonder if her mother would agree, and if so, why is the daughter calling, and not the mother herself? The thought that comes into my head is, “Well, what about you? What are your plans for your later years?”
Start early for extra income.
We are often advised to start early when planning financially for our retirement, in terms of our savings and investments. Planning to share your home is a financial tool that is not currently on the radar. The earlier you start to home-share, the more extra income you will earn that can be saved or invested, if you so choose. But even if you choose instead to spend the money on travel or just having fun, the extra income will continue to come in once you retire and will supplement your other retirement income.
And truly what is equally, if not more important is the relationship you build with your carefully chosen home-mate(s). And I use the (s) very intentionally, because people age differently, and sharing a home with two or more other people means that, if one of you is injured or becomes ill, there are still two (or more) other people in the home to advocate for them (or you!) with the health care system and pick up the slack in keeping house. That will give your family members immense peace of mind, too!
Even if you are still happily married, once your kids have moved out and you have some spare bedrooms, what’s to prevent you and your spouse from renting out space to a home-mate? If you are widowed or divorced, there’s even more reason to give it a try.
Some people have told me they often will have a conversation with friends over a glass of wine about how great it would be to get a place together once you are single again for whatever reason. Well, take that pie out of the sky and start planning! The best time to catch the wave is well before it crests; then you have a great chance of enjoying the ride for the rest of your life.
Golden Girls Canada is owned and operated by Golden HomeSharing Connections
Home-mate matching services for older adults by accredited
seniors real estate specialist (SRES) Dorothy Mazeau.
Want to know more?
Tune in to the Zoomer Radio 740AM show “From a Woman’s Perspective” the first Saturday each month and listen to Dorothy talk about housing options!
Invite Dorothy to speak at your next service club, church or social group meeting. Her presentation *An Introduction to Golden Girls Living * offers plenty of food for thought!