According to a recent study by AARP, 77% of adults over the age of 50 plan to remain in their homes as they age. Although this is a priority for the majority older adults, many homes and neighborhoods are not well-equipped to support aging individuals. Older adults may encounter houses or yards that are difficult to maintain, neighborhoods that require a car to get around, a general sense of isolation and loneliness, or other barriers.
One group that is often especially aware of some of the challenges that accompany aging-in-place is the adult children of aging parents. Often, these adult children find themselves taking on additional responsibilities to support their parents’ independence while worrying constantly about their parents’ wellbeing, safety, and happiness.
This is exactly the position that Jane found herself in with her mother, Karen, who was planning to age-in-place. Jane said, “My mom, and dad when he was alive, were very clear they wanted to stay in their own home even if their health declined.” When Jane’s father passed away several years ago and Karen was left alone in their home near St. Louis, MO and Jane began to worry.
Karen was happy in her home and had no desire to move, but living alone in the house did leave her feeling isolated, and chronic back pain made doing house and yard work uncomfortable. Jane and her brother both live out-of-state and were getting increasingly stressed about their mother’s living situation. Jane knew her mom was happy in her current home, but she also knew that the status quo wasn’t working anymore.
“I was really at the end of my rope when I found Odd Couples Housing. I was about to quit my job in Washington, D.C. and move back to Missouri since my dad had passed away and my mom was alone.”
Luckily, Jane had heard of homesharing and thought that it could be a good solution to meet her mom’s needs. Jane and Karen decided to reach out to Odd Couples Housing and Karen was quickly matched with a roommate, who is a great fit for her lifestyle and personality. Karen loves her roommate’s company. They regularly cook for each other and enjoy watching hockey games at a local restaurant together. Jane appreciates their camaraderie and the support they provide each other, “We have forged a great friendship with my mom’s roommate. I know he cares about my mom, so I don’t worry as much about if she’s lonely or eating enough, since I know that he treats her like his own family. It’s very reassuring.”
Jane is thrilled with her mom’s living situation and is no longer worrying about leaving her own home to help her mother out. Particularly because she’s far away, Jane finds it comforting to know that Karen has a friend in the house and someone who can help out in case of an emergency. Jane said, “Ensuring that someone is with my mom when my brother and I are not there has given us real peace of mind. I know I can always call or text her roommate to check in if my mom isn’t answering her phone or if I can’t reach her.”
When asked what advice she would give other families who are committed to helping their parents age in place, Jane says,