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Companion Living in Today's World

Randy DeVaul

Posted on May 5, 2018 10:21

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America’s senior adult population, those age 65 and older, continues to grow at an astounding rate. Communities and families struggle with how to ensure their aging loved ones continue having a quality of life that includes friends, social opportunities and basic needs such as food, shelter and companionship. Companion living can be a means to provide all of those things without all the guilt, stress and burden that is felt by the senior, the senior's family, or the community-at-large.

America’s senior adult population, those age 65 and older, continues to grow at an astounding rate as the baby boomers reach and exceed retirement age. For some, well-planned retirement accounts provide for greater independence throughout their retirement years. For most, those “well intentioned” retirement plans did not pan out as hoped and those seniors struggle to retain independence. In such scenarios, many now must rely on their adult kids for help. That creates guilt, stress, and a feeling of burden on the senior, the child, and the child’s immediate family.

Some families find ways to cope to provide housing, care, security, and social outlets for their loved ones. I hear stories about kids who are taking in a single parent as the spouse is either hospitalized in a long-term care facility or has passed on. In some cases, the parent has moved in with the child and the child’s kids have also moved back in, creating a “Waltons” extended family household. That worked great on television but real world does not always resolve all problems in an hour’s worth of time.

Enter the concept of companion living. This is not a new concept. During the '80s, the sitcom “Golden Girls” basically portrayed this very idea. A mother and daughter sharing a house with two other friends – sharing expenses, the workload, life itself – offered them companionship, respect, dignity, independence, and security. This is much like the “Friends” television concept only 40 years later.

We have come close, I think, through the development of 55+ communities scattered across the country. These communities are designed and intended for older adults but often are reserved for those with disposable income and usually promoted as a place for couples or aging singles. That is not bad. Having people of similar age with likely similar interests living in close proximity can foster additional friendships and provide a level of security and belonging.

I have found on Facebook a significant number of people with whom I attended high school or college and discovering that, though I am 800 miles away from where I grew up, there are numerous people I know living within miles of me right now. For people who retained long-standing friendships or best friend relationships, it seems almost natural in the aging process to want to continue those relationships and to have them close by. If you have people you want to share life with, companion living is a perfect way to do that.

Companion living can provide a wonderful choice for senior adults to establish or maintain friendships, social lives, security, and most importantly, the dignity to remain independent with the security of not being alone. Finding others within similar circumstances creates a common bond. From that bond, all the benefits mentioned can be derived.  And the rest of the family members? They can continue on knowing that their parents’ needs are being met without the strain and stress for both them and the remaining parent.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on May 5, 2018 10:21

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