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Any thoughts or advice on getting parent a senior aged roommate? I'm probably asking for a disaster waiting to happen, but it seems like it could be a viable option, as long as said roommate has a written plan in place and supportive family members should a move for that person need to be made?


There are so many lonely seniors out that that could still live independently. Thoughts? Thank you!

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And we’re compatible!
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JoAnn29 Feb 10, 2019
You are one of the lucky ones.
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My MIL has a nice home in FLA and so did a friend about a half an hour away. My SIL suggested one of them giving up their house and moving in together. Didn't go over big.

In my opinion, it doesn't work when one person owns the house and the other is coming to live with them. It will always be the owners house and her rules. My daughter moved in for nine months. She kept changing things around in my kitchen. Drove me nuts. She brought a cat so had to make room somewhere for him.

Then, like said, if one gets ill who is responsible for their care. Will the family step up to the plate.

If doing this because the person is having financial problems, then sell the house and go to a nice independent or assisted living. This would take care of socialization too. We have to get away from We want to stay in our home till we die". Its not realistic. And there are so many options now a days. No worrying about upkeep on a house. Paying someone to mow.
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Segoline Feb 8, 2019
Sing it sista.
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If you are trying to rent a room and advertise publicly you have to follow federal housing laws. There may be restrictions on the type of screening you can do.

You have to consider, pets, visitors (length of stay) ages, etc. I spent a summer at the beach with a close friend who had both knees replaced. She needed help with navigating her steps. We got along well with two exceptions. I didn’t like her 2 indoor dogs and she didn’t care for my husband coming to spend the weekend to fish. We’re still best friends, and I would help her again if necessary, like she would me. But, that summer did make both of us think about roommates, etc. Everyone should remember, The Golden Girls was a television show.
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I think living unrelated room mates is difficult no matter how old we are, it is hard enough for a newly wed couple to adjust to having someone in their space and they have love on their side! If anyone you know has ever had one or more room mates while they attended school you will probably have heard about the petty squabbles that made their life miserable - imagine that only with older people who are more set in their ways and are spending the majority of their time at home.
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jacobsonbob Feb 10, 2019
For many years I had a room mate until I moved out of town to take my final job at almost 43 y/o. The room mates varied from almost 15 years younger to about 3 years older. I was living in a rented 2-bedroom townhouse, and had about a half-dozen room mates during that time. Some were great, with one becoming one of my best friends with whom I'm still in touch a couple decades later and attended his out-of-state wedding, a couple were a bit irresponsible, and another tried to cheat me by running up phone bills and then hiding the statements ( I bounced him out and took him to small claims court). Still, this enabled me to save (and invest) a tremendous amount of money.

There were several advantages to having a room mate besides sharing the cost. One was that having another set of eyes and ears allowed for greater security, especially if the two had different schedules. Another is that the other person might own some items that can be used by both and perhaps have some useful complementary talents or skills. Finally, the companionship and help in an emergency are useful benefits. (Although each of us joked that our next roommates would be female, it didn't necessarily work out that way--but occasionally we would double date along the way!)

However, I'll admit the situation might be different when having two older people together, especially if age-related disability issues are involved.
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I'm a single woman with no kids and I've thought about something like this for myself but I really can't see any way to make it work that doesn't involve way too much effort - I don't want to be a landlord to a stranger who just needs a room and I certainly wouldn't want to have to deal with a stranger whose habits and preferences are in conflict with mine. Co-ops have rules and a governance structure and often some kind of external oversight, plus the dynamics of a group are very much different than the dynamics of two - with a group there must be a consensus, with two one will often dominate the other.
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Segoline Feb 8, 2019
I can so relate to your post.
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I hope you get some good responses from some who have experience with this. I would just suggest that you consult with an attorney to explore the risks and responsibilities in developing the written plan you mention. For example, what if the roommate situation doesn't work out and then you want them to leave, but, they refuse? Or, what if they get sick or injured and need care they can't afford? What if they have family or guests who are problematic? There are also safety issues. Often you don't really know how someone is until you live with them a while. Lots of seniors are very set in their ways and compromising with a roommate might prove challenging. Still, it might work well for the right people. I'd consider all options though, like an Independent Living facility, where they have their own room, but, others just down the hall where they can socialize, dine, have activities, etc.
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Why is this needed?
Are you looking for a boarder or renter as your parent needs additional funds to pay for their costs of living in their home? They are still ok on their ADLs but financially can not afford their home.

If this is the scenario..... that your folks can not afford to live in their home.... and you cannot afford to cover whatever “gap” exists financially, then personally I think it’s best for them to look at selling their home and move into IL that has activities and goes on scheduled shopping trips via a van or scheduled public transit with IL staff.

If this is about socialization, why is this an issue now?
Has something changed in their life that has caused an issue?
I’d be concerned that whomever moves in will inevitably have their own
issues both financially and medically and your mom gets entangled with their problems. If things go bad, it can be hard to evict them as many places have tenant rights. This site is littered with tales of woe from family members who move in with an elderly parent. Getting a stranger moving in is even more of a crapshoot imo.
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I like the idea, BUT someone would have to manage it very closely (you??!!).

Roommates are challenging!

I think it's something better done when the seniors are still in decent condition and can get used to living with each other, etc. One of my friends has actually mentioned some of us doing this at some point. Interesting, no doubt.

There are a LOT of widows in my town (lots of people seem to retire to our area) and I've thought how nice it would be for 2 or 3 of them to live together to help each other, etc. Someone to chat with, share the work load with, etc. A house is too much for one older woman, IMHO.

Perhaps an agreement, in advance, in writing, about bringing in a "helper" at a shared cost. Like someone to clean the house. And/or do the cooking. Now, that sounds great to me!
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The only time I have known of a "roommate" working was with two pairs of sisters. I had a pair of great-aunts that never married and always shared a home. They purchased a house during WWII and moved out of the family home together. About 50 years later they sold the house and moved into a NH together, sharing the same room. The other pair of sisters moved in together after they both became widows in their early 60s and lived together for almost 2 decades. When the older sister died, the younger moved into a senior apartment.

There are some senior living houses around here where someone has taken a large house and made 4-6 "suites" out of it. Someone even purchased an old community school and converted it into a senior house. In those cases, everyone is an equal tenant with the same rights and obligations, definitely not the same situation you have with just a single roommate in a private home.

In the extended family, there was one childless aunt in her late 70s back in 1980s with a very large house who arranged for 2 widows in their late 50s to live on the second floor while she lived on the first floor. The upstairs had 4 BRs and 2 BAs so each lady got a bedroom, sitting room, and bath. The live-ins got room and board and a small monthly payment for cooking, housekeeping and yard work. My aunt had no problem with the live-in's family having the run of the downstairs common rooms and yard when they visited. When she died in 1994, the live-ins continued living there until they received a bequest from the estate that allowed them to relocate; by that time each was old enough to draw SS and this arrangement seemed to have worked out well for everyone.
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I know of a couple situations where people tried this and it did not work out for various reasons. My cousin tried getting my aunt a roommate. Reduced rent for fixing meals and housework. For a time it worked out and then there were problems with the roomy always staying in her room and not coming out. Finally found her in there dead one day after she had apparently overdosed. When they tried to get another roommate they were told that when advertising for someone you are not legally allowed to specify age or sex among other things. They kept getting requests from very young college age men and women. I doubt that would have worked. A friend of mine advertised and got an older gentleman that moved in with her. Turns out the man had moderate dementia and his family was either in denial of his condition or looking for someone to unload him on. I would think that this wouldn't be a very good idea unless it is family or someone that you know well. Strangers maybe just an invitation to disaster.
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