There was Felix-and-Oscar. There were The Golden Girls. Such arrangements–adults living with adult roommates–are about to get less comic and more common, say experts on housing and on the aging of the Baby Boom.
One pair of roommates—Carol Loper, 69, and Gerry Venable, 74—recently was profiled on the front page of the L.A. Times. An executive of the non-profit agency that put the two of them together, tells ABC News she sees the number of such households growing.
Rachel Caraviello, vice president of Affordable Living for the Aging (ALA), says that nationally there are about 130,000 households where the cohabiters are aged 50 or older, and where they have no familial relationship or romantic connection.
Caraviello views these arrangements as one more manifestation of the “sharing economy”: Here, one party typically is house-rich but cash-poor; and the other has money or services to contribute.
Rodney Harrell, PhD, a specialist on housing with the AARP’s Public Policy Institute, tells ABC News the range of agreements struck can include one party’s helping the other with shopping, transportation, cooking or informal care-giving. He believes there will be more demand for roommate and other sharing programs as the Baby Boom ages.
By 2030, according to the Federal Administration on Aging, one out of every five Americans will be 65 or older. The sheer size of the Boomer cohort, says Harrell, plus its declared desire to age “in place,” rather than in a nursing home, means having a roommate will be what he calls a growing niche option. “Few do it now,” he tells ABC, “but more could, or would, if that option were made more easily available.”