Home Sharing Becomes an Option for Seniors

By Vikki Ortiz Healy of the Chicago Tribune

The roommates share bathrooms and have each other’s shower times memorized. They fold each other’s laundry when someone leaves it in the dryer too long. They play cards together in the afternoon and watch “Dancing With the Stars” together at night.

And they ride along in the ambulance when one takes a bad fall.

It’s a living arrangement none of the seniors imagined for themselves when they were young, married and raising families in their own suburban homes. But time, age and circumstances led the five roommates — two men, three women ranging from 64 to 98 years old — to the red brick house in suburban Lombard, Ill.

There, next door to a young family with a swing set, and across the street from a high school, the seniors share a sprawling ranch as part of a Wheaton, Ill., non-profit organization’s mission to bring a unique housing option to the Chicago area’s elderly population, which is expected to double by 2040, officials said.

The number of people who are growing old in U.S. cities continues to rise. By 2030, one in five residents in the Atlanta region will be over 60, experts say. And according to the 2010 census, people ages 45 to 64 make up the fastest-growing segment in the region, showing the greatest percentage increase between 2000 and 2010.

For the last three decades, Wheaton-based Senior Home Sharing has placed seniors who are self-sufficient, but in search of company, into homes nestled on typical residential neighborhoods. What began as a one-house experiment in Lombard, Ill., has grown to include houses in Naperville, Downers Grove and Elmhurst, Ill., where the seniors get three prepared meals a day and medicine reminders from a live-in house manager. Click here to read on.

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