As you gather with family this Thanksgiving, think about your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your friend… that member of the family who’s single and living alone. Chances are that she isn’t thinking about making any changes in her living situation. Chances are she hasn’t ever considered sharing her home with someone else. Is this something that you might want to suggest?
Ask her about her home, her day-to-day life, her activities, her social life. You may not want to ask her about her finances directly, but listen to any comments she may make about money. Is what you’re hearing good? Is this woman whom you care about getting out and about, enjoying her home, having people over for dinner parties or other social gatherings? Or do you sense a lack of connection with the people around her, a loneliness that perhaps she’s accepted as “just the way it is?”
Of course you don’t want to meddle, but there’s nothing wrong with introducing a new idea, a fresh outlook on one’s options. This might be a good time to start a conversation about the movement that’s growing among Boomer-and-above women toward shared housing and “intentional community.” You might want to point out how much the media is talking about this phenomenon these days. A lot of single women over 50 are deciding to share their homes with one or more other women in their age group, and they’re loving it. If they find the right compatible roommate, they maintain all of the independence they always had, but they also now have companionship, they cut their mortgage and utility bills in half, they share their chores with another responsible person, and they have more money to spend on travel or home improvements or going out to dinner or indulging themselves with sessions at the spa or donating to the causes they care about.
According to Sally Abrahms, writing for the AARP Bulletin, four million women age 50-plus in the U.S. live in households with at least two women in their same age group, and their numbers are rising. Shared housing is an idea many are embracing, and one to consider for women over 50 who are living alone.
Your gentle suggestion this Thanksgiving just might lead someone you love to consider taking a step that could vastly improve her overall sense of well being, her financial strength, and her enjoyment of life. You could be helping her ring in a very happy New Year.