One of the great things about living in a frat house when you are younger is that it teaches you about community spirit and how pulling together can make a team greater than the sum of its parts. In a frat house, if the people living there are trying to raise funds or solve a problem, the will often come together and work as a unit. This ability to live seemingly independent lives but still come together like a family in times of need is being replicated by many older people now too. While still maintaining their independence.
An elderly community in Boston found a way to live independently from each other but still reap the benefits of community similar to living in a frat house. They regularly go out for trips together, including bike rides, visits to museums, and frequent trips to get coffee or hang out watch movies. Instead of opting for living in a nursing home, these elderly people are rejecting the expectations people have towards them and are living their lives how they want. They aren’t relying on nursing staff to help them through the day but rather, they rely on themselves and their communal spirit.
Looking to the rest of the world
It is a fairly common practice across many countries in the world, even if it is relatively new in the USA. In Germany, the older people who choose not to live in retirement homes are actually given grants by the government to help set up shared apartments with like-minded others. They even get given a monthly contribution toward their rent. The UK offers a project called Homeshare, where it encourages people to open up their spare rooms to the elderly. This allows the older person the freedom to live their life how they see fit in their later years, but also the support of a family, or roommate, should they start to feel lonely.
It isn’t all a bunch of roses
Unfortunately, like most things in life, the communities require money to thrive and often they don’t have enough. People are leaving as they cannot afford to sustain their newfound lease on life, while other communities can suffer from a lack of leadership. A micro-society based on sharing and support is perhaps a little idealistic and it could be argued requires a focal figure for people to turn to in times of need. Sometimes this lack of leadership can result in the community shutting down, and a lack of funding can be the final nail in the coffin.
Despite the risks, this new way of living is helping to give people who are in the latter stages of their lives to live life to the full. They are able to maintain positive social relationships which greatly contribute to their mental well-being. Often elderly people can become lonely and shut off from society which can reduce their life expectancy. Another benefit of living within these groups is the care they can offer for those who get sick. They can help to look after each other if they are recovering from an operation and aren’t able to do basic things like cook for themselves.
Growing old isn’t an easy road, but finding a community of like-minded individuals to share your time with is going to help make it as smooth as possible. You can rely on each other for support without losing your sense of independence, something that many people in their older years can lose sight of. We think older people reverting back to their younger years is a great way to turn what can be the loneliest time in your life into one of the best times.