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Agencies Help Seniors Find Roommates

Update Date: Jul 23, 2014 12:22 PM EDT

For many older adults, living at home as opposed to a senior care facility is ideal. However, many seniors do not have the means to afford living on their own. Now, in order to help seniors, there are home-sharing programs throughout the nation that can pair seniors who are alone with one another.

"It's a wonderful arrangement," said the white-haired Marcia Rosenfeld reported by the San Francisco Gate. "The way the rents are these days, I couldn't stay here without it."

Rosenfeld used the program, which paired her with a 69-year-old widow, Carolyn Allen. Allen had previously suffered from two strokes. Together, they share the costs of living in a two-bedroom, $1000-per-month rent Brooklyn apartment. By connecting seniors with one another, more people can avoid foreclosures, high property taxes and increasing rent. Many of these programs end up aiding elderly, widowed or divorced women.

"Our seniors want to remain part of the community they were raised in, where they worked and went to church," said Jackie Grossman, director of the home-sharing program at Open Communities in the Chicago suburbs. "They don't want to be just with other seniors. Maybe they love their garden, their tool shed, and they would have to give that up if they move into senior housing."

To ensure safety, the agencies conduct background checks and take into account the adult's living requirements. For example, some people might not want to like with a senior who smokes, owns a pet or has no source of income. When the agencies find the best match available, both parties sign an agreement that takes into account several factors such as chores, overnight visitors, telephone use, and more.

"Craigslist can be very scary, especially for women," said Connie Skillingstad, president of Golden Girl Homes Inc. in Robbinsdale, MN, which refers women to housing resources including home-sharing. "They'd rather go through a respectable organization."

These types of programs hope that their services can improve the quality of life for the many older Americans.

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