Where shall we live next?

‘Where to live next’ is a concern we hear often in our 70Candles! Gatherings.  Here’s what we posted on Huff/Post50, addressing that important topic.

Sooner or later, the family house becomes too big, too expensive to maintain, and its stairs become a challenge. Women, especially if they are on their own, have to determine the right time to move and where to live next — whether to live alone, join a community of age-mates, or move in with children or other relatives or settle near them. There are considerations about old friends and familiar places that may be left behind. In our 70Candles conversation groups and at 70Candles, we’ve seen that the important question of living arrangements weighs on the minds of women as they get older.

Here are some of the many choices now available.


Studies suggest that as many as 90 percent of Americans 65 or older prefer to stay in their own homes indefinitely. They feel comfortable in familiar surroundings, they know their neighbors, they treasure friendships and neighborhood ties that have endured for decades.


Many retirees are drawn back to cities where public transportation, walkability, and abundant services are offered. In New York and Philadelphia, women in 70Candles conversation groups described selling the home where they raised their families, and moving back to “the city.” In response to the unprecedented increases in their aging populations, many American cities have started to make senior-friendly changes to their urban landscape.


Some families prepare well ahead for incorporating a grandma into their homes. Some build a “mother-in-law apartment” onto the house, retrofit a garage, or have a separate floor allocated for a grandparent’s residence. When this works well, grandparents can have the pleasures of being near grandchildren as they grow, the children can profit from knowing their grandparents more intimately, and their parents can be available if the elder needs assistance.


Women on their own are experimenting with home sharing in cities across the country. Several women purchase a large home together, work out legal, financial, and social sharing protocols to form a small community, while reducing their individual living expenses. There is even an on-line matching service for women — Roommates4Boomers — that analyzes participants’ questionnaires to suggest compatible living companions.

RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES — Various types exist around the country


Co-housing is a model for adults 50 or older, brought to the States from Denmark by architects McCamant and Durrett. It is a collaborative venture wherein the residents participate in designing and operating their own neighborhoods. The co-housing model harkens back to communes of the 60’s, with the focus on both individuality and interdependence.

Independent Living

Across the country, “independent living” or “senior living” facilities might appear as multi-story apartment buildings, as sprawling condominiums, or as homes on golf courses. Whether singular structures or entire villages, these planned communities offer an array of amenities, activities, and services for a newer, more energetic senior generation.

Other Independent living arrangements, where activities are not typically provided, are referred to as senior housing, senior homes, or senior apartments. In a wide range of settings from basic apartment houses to upscale resort-like accommodations, seniors can live as independently as possible, within a community of peers, knowing that if support services are not available, they can acquire them on their own, when and if they are needed.

Assisted Living

For those who need assistance with daily care, Assisted Living apartments and, more recently, small Assisted Living boarding homes may be the right fit. Here, nurse aids or technicians can offer help with activities of daily living, including meals, dressing, toileting, and medication. Transportation is available for group outings and recreational purposes. Many assisted living facilities are embedded in Continuing Care Communities where step-down or step-up possibilities exist as health conditions dictate.

Long-Term Care

Even the once-dreaded nursing home is undergoing evolutionary changes. The Eden Alternative, conceived of by geriatrician Dr. William Thomas to ward off the suffering he saw caused by loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, incorporates nature, animals, children, and increased human interactions, into the traditional nursing home setting.

His newer model, The Green House Project, advances the comfort and humanizes the experience further. It proposes “small intentional communities for groups of elders and staff, to focus on living full and vibrant lives.” There are no standard schedules to follow, and no more than 12 “elders” live in each home. Each has a private room with bath near a commons area that includes a kitchen, living room, and large communal dining table.

These choices depend on the health, financial means, and lifestyle choices of both the aging person and her or his family.

Where do you picture yourself living as you age?
Do any of these choices see appealing?
Do you have another vision?
We’d love to hear your views.

Excerpted from the book 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole. Taosinstitute.net/70Candles


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4 Responses to Where shall we live next?

  1. Blog Mavens says:

    From Frances Robinson
    Age 68 (on Dec. 31, 2016)
    Non-Hispanic White
    Spent 50 years in Southern CA.
    Grew up in San Diego.
    Went to High School in Northern CA.
    Married/3 children

    Spent 10 years in The Army (my ex) and lived all over The US and lived in Europe for three years

    Spent 30 years in Orange County working for OC Superior Court.
    Retired to New Mexico.
    College Graduate

    We have it wrong. We ARE old. Granted, we are living longer, but most of us are not living better. According to government stats, each day X amount of people reach age 65. Of those who reach age 65, 50% are not working due to illness and/or injury; and most of that 50% will never work (outside the home) again. Of the 50% who are not suffering from a debilitating illness and/or injury — I would not surmise that EVERYONE is doing just great. But I do think that those who are doing just great (my ex-BF was still downhill skiing at age 75) are the ones making the most noise about ‘disrupting aging’. And I think that makes everyone who is not doing great (the majority) feel more or less guilty because they think that they don’t ‘measure up’.

    My point is this: until we accept that we are old, until we embrace our old age (it is a such a great time of life, unless we are very sick, badly injured and/or very poor — and 1 in 6 are at poverty level or below), until we are proud of being old — we will continue to be denigrated for being old.

    We absolutely cannot buy into society’s ‘mandate’ that if we are worthwhile only if we consume, produce and look/act young. No wonder society disrespect us. Most of us look and act ridiculous when we buy into that mandate.

    “When I look up at the night sky, I know that:
    yes, we are part of this universe,
    we are in this universe,
    but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that
    the universe is in us….
    Our atoms came from the stars….”

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

  2. Mary Lou says:

    I’m treading water in my own garden apartment on a minimum income of SS and small pension. So far I’m able to live independently. I have LTC Insurance just in case (and hopefully not) I have to enter a nursing home. I want to help my sons if that option becomes inevitable. This is a good post. We all need to communicate these things with our family.

  3. Blog Mavens says:

    How funny. Just a few minutes ago I finished an article on Home Sharing to be published in our Church Newsletter. (See it below.) Our Congregation is aging.
    Personally, I am tempted to sell my Los Angeles home and find Joanna and Chip in Waco and ask them to find me a home for little or nothing and let Joanna turn it into a thing of beauty. I’d have money left over and a pension free and clear, but no friends or relatives. I guess I’ll stay put.


    • Blog Mavens says:

      Home Sharing
      By Bunny Withers

      The benefits of shared housing can improve the
      quality of life for you or your loved one.

      Affordable Living for The Aging (alaseniorliving.org) offers a shared housing program in Los Angeles that matches home owners and renters who have extra bedrooms with reliable housemates. They invite families to participate in the matching process and experience the joy and security of finding the right housemate for their loved ones. It is a way for older adults to remain in their homes and is also a resource for adults who for financial reasons have had difficulties remaining in their homes.*

      Individuals share housing as a way to:
      • Enjoy companionship
      • Save money
      • Receive help with transportation an house work
      • Enjoy peace of mind and a sense of security at home
      • Share household duties

      follow @SeniorHousingLA

      * Agency does not place Homeless applicants

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