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?”