Coronavirus and Older Adults: What Resources Are Available

Like many companies that work with older adults and college students in America, we’ve been watching the coronavirus situation as it evolves. We understand that COVID-19 could have vast impacts and we are taking current circumstances seriously. We are paying particular attention to the ways COVID-19 could affect the people we most often work with: students and senior communities.

You probably know that many colleges and universities have closed due to COVID-19. As you might imagine, this created a challenging situation for many students. In a previous blog, we highlighted some go-to resources specifically for college students. The main concern is that many students–especially international students–were asked to leave their on-campus housing and don’t have a place to go. Times of crisis remind us of just how critical it is to support one another during challenging periods. For this reason, we are so impressed by several of our homeowners who stepped up to help by offering rooms in their homes for displaced students. Thank you! 

At Odd Couples Housing, we do our best to put older generations and students at the heart of everything we do. Because of this, we want to make sure you are staying up to date on news about coronavirus. When it comes to the coronavirus, things have been changing quickly, and we want to make sure you are aware of your resources and prepared, in case it touches your community. Moreover, we want to share some coronavirus-related initiatives and a few tips to help you stay connected.

First and most importantly, please be sure to follow reliable sources that have up-to-date guidance such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just to mention a few. We also encourage you to vigilantly follow guidelines from public health officials and to continue to monitor news from local authorities. A lot of experts are sharing information about COVID-19, so be sure to read their tips and advice on how people can protect themselves.

Secondly, we recommend that you consider using social media. Whether you’re a regular user or new to social media platforms, now is a great time to engage online. There are a lot of helpful social media platforms that have brought different groups of people together. You might try a Facebook group or app. Some pages and groups were created with the intention of sharing news updates, some are helping educate people, and some just want to connect people for socializing purposes. There are also pages that focus on local volunteer opportunities that you could use to both provide and receive support.

One great Facebook group matches people wanting to help others with those needing help during the coronavirus pandemic.  Although the page cannot guarantee that everyone’s needs will be met, it has “brought people together as a community and hopes that this allows positive things to happen.” Anyone needing help can fill out this form

Thirdly, since older adults have an increased risk of having serious COVID-19 related health concerns, (and some areas have stay-at-home orders) many people are concerned about going to the pharmacy to get medication. Thankfully, Walgreens and CVS have offered to deliver people’s prescriptions or complete essential online order with no delivery fee. Read more here. Furthermore, the two pharmacies mentioned above and Walmart will also loan their space for coronavirus tests.

Last but not least, it is understandable that those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 would be cautious about entering public spaces during this time. This makes it difficult to complete daily tasks, like buying food. Thankfully, many grocery store chains and other retailers have delivery options. Others are also setting aside certain hours exclusively for older adults to shop. The stores offering these special hours include Whole Foods, Target, Schnucks, and Dollar General, just to mention a few.

Lastly, here are just a few more resources for seniors in the  St.Louis area who might need meals, transportation, and any other help. If you need food but can’t afford it contact St.Louis Food Bank and St. Louis Area Agency on Aging. The St. Louis Area Agency on Aging does not just deliver meals but also provides transportation like Aging Ahead.

We also encourage you to take care of yourself and don’t become too isolated. Call a family member, email an old friend, or learn to text or video chat to stay in touch! Try to keep to your normal routine as much as possible, even if your activities have changed. This means keeping up with your usual wake-up, sleep, and mealtime routines. Also, challenge yourself to do some kind of movement every day. Staying connected, engaged and active can help you adjust to the many changes happening in the world.

In conclusion, we want you to know that there are resources available to support you during this challenging time. It is a weird time for all of us, but we are confident that we will get through this together! Our thoughts are with all of you and we hope you’re safe and healthy. Take care of yourselves and each other, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Debunking The Generation Gap

Baby Boomers, you’ve probably heard a lot about the millennials. And millennials, I’m sure you’ve heard a thing or two about the Silent Generation. So, where did these generational delineations come from, and what about the stereotypes that accompany them?

The Generation Gap is defined as “differences of outlook or opinion between people of different generations.” It’s often used to explain perceived differentiation between people of varying ages and feeds some of the generalities made about the behaviors of people in different generations. It could help explain why you may get some skeptical looks when you bring up intergenerational living to your friends or family members! 

Take a look at the chart below to see where generations are commonly divided:

It’s easy to make assumptions about people based on when they were born. But, does our age define our opinions, talents, interests, and motivations? A study from the Cambridge University Press on intergenerational differences in the workplace says, not so much. In their words, “there is little solid empirical evidence supporting generationally based differences and almost no theory behind why such differences should even exist.” Simply put, you might have more in common with a differently-aged roommate than you think! 

Take technology use–this is a classic example of something that is often seen as a dividing force between generations. Millennials and Gen X-ers have a reputation for being too tech-dependent while Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are seen as being out of touch with technological advances. However, a recent study from the Pew Research Center showed that that older generations are adopting technology at high rates. Nearly 70% of Baby Boomers have a smartphone! And just as interesting, while the rates of social media use have stayed steady for Millennials in the past several years, they have grown by at least 10% for both Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. 

All this to say, the generation gap might not be so very big after all! If you’re thinking about ways to make connections with people of different age groups, intergenerational living could be a good fit for you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know someone of different ages, debunk myths, learn a new perspective, and share what you know with another person!

Aging in the 21st Century: Challenge and Opportunity

Odd Couples Housing has the pleasure of working directly with Dr. Brian Carpenter, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Carpenter, whose research and teaching focuses on aging, has a pulse on the challenges and opportunities of an aging society. He offers new perspectives and raises important questions about the changes we’ll face in our homes, communities, and the national front, as the U.S. population grows increasingly silver. At Odd Couples Housing, we’ve learned much from Dr. Carpenter  to support our mission to create a sustainable future through inter-generational home sharing.

Recently, Dr. Carpenter recorded a brief Ted Talk style lecture that highlights key themes for those considering inter-generational living. We recommend you watch it. The graphics are particularly powerful. Below, we’ve summarized the main take-away from Dr. Carpenter’s talk and we’ve posed a few questions to help you think about our aging society.

Did you know the world’s population is aging? 

The number of adults over the age of 65 has grown steadily over the last 100 years, and it is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. As the baby boomer generation ages, we will see more and more people living into their later life. In fact, we are already seeing the demographic shift towards an older population, with expectations that the U.S. population over the age of 65 will double by 2060. Interestingly, the age group that is growing the fastest in terms of its proportion of the total population are our centenarians, or those over 100. 

How will this affect your own life, now and in the future?

What are the implications of an aging society?

In coming years, our population will begin to resemble the demographics of Florida, where approximately 20% of the population is over 65 years old. This shift towards an older demographic will impact many areas of our daily lives. It will affect health care, transportation, technology, finances, travel, leisure, culture, and of course, housing.

Where do you see indications that the U.S. is growing older?

What about Aging in Place?

Many older adults prefer to stay in their homes and communities as they age. While aging in place has many advantages, there are also challenges on many fronts.  Physical changes can impact mobility, cognition and ability to live independently. Financial changes can threaten a person’s ability to maintain a home. Changes in social networks might mean that a person is more isolated in their home.

Have you thought about where you or your loved ones would like to age? How will you plan to meet their needs?  

Why is remaining socially connected so important?

Staying connected to a social network or support system is vitally important for people throughout their lives.  As we grow older, the psychological benefits of social engagement are particularly powerful. Research indicates that strong social networks are associated with lower risk of depression and dementia, and higher life satisfaction. 

What do you do to stay connected to your friends and social networks?

How does inter-generational connection help?

Socializing with people across age groups is a vibrant form of social connection. Through inter-generational interactions, both younger and older people can learn new skills and perspectives that help to break down age-related stereotypes. When we spend time with different generations, we are more likely to engage with people as individuals, rather than lumping them into a trope or stereotyped category. 

How can you connect more frequently with individuals from another generation? 

If this has piqued your interest, Dr. Carpenter makes many more fascinating points about what it means to live in an aging society in his full talk. Consider setting aside ten minutes of your day to watch! 

What are the challenges and the opportunities we will face in years ahead in response to the aging of our population?

Happy Housing Anniversary!

If you’ve been following Odd Couples Housing, you probably recognize Nagesh and Sally. They were one of the first matches that we set up and have shared their experiences on STLMade (link) and the Ladue News (link) (any others?). Sally is a retired Associate Dean of Communications at Webster University and loves spending time with her cuddly boxer, Tank. Nagesh is a current graduate student at Webster where he is busy earning two Master’s degrees. 

October 23rd marked the one year anniversary of Sally and Nagesh becoming roommates. We caught up with the pair about the past year and what the Odd Couples Housing match has meant to them. 

“I got so lucky,” Sally said, “It’s been very smooth. It’s very win-win.” Nagesh is originally from Mumbai and Sally noted that some of the favorite things she has learned from him are related to Indian food and Nagesh’s keen cooking abilities. Aside from learning about Nagesh and Indian food, Sally has also learned some things about herself in the past year. Most salient? “Learn to let go. I don’t have to be a parent.”

Nagesh was also effusive in his description of the past year with Sally and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share her home. Living with her helped him feel settled in St. Louis, focus on school, and most importantly, “find a home away from home.” 

When asked about what year two will hold for the pair, Sally sighs. Nagesh will be graduating soon and most likely leave the St. Louis area. She will be sad when he moves out, but made it clear that she is ready for the next young person Odd Couples Housing sends her way!

And Sally’s advice for new roommate pairs?

“Live and let live–acceptance is key. You teach me and I’ll teach you.”


Living with a Roommate Who Works from Home

For some, the days of packing a lunch, getting dressed up, and going to work are long gone. Whether it’s every day or occasionally, at least 43% of American spend some time working remotely each year. Despite being fairly common, many people are not familiar with this new work structure. If your new roommate works from home, you may be wondering, “What does this mean for me?”