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Home-sharing can have both positive and negative impacts on older adults
Martinez L, Mirza RM, Austen A, Hsieh J, Klinger CA, Kuah M, et al. More than just a room: A scoping review of the impact of homesharing for older adults Innovation in Aging. 2020 May;4(2).
- What are the positive and negative impacts associated with participation in home-sharing programs for older adults 55 years old and older?
Aging in place allows older adults to maintain their independence, autonomy and connection to friends and family. However, this is not always possible due to certain aging phenomena such as decline in mobility, in health status and in the capacity to live alone safely.
- One approach to address this problem is home sharing. Home sharing is a living arrangement where people that are not related to each other share a single dwelling and share common areas of the unit while having their own private rooms.
- Although home sharing is not specific to older adults, older adults are motivated to participate in such initiative for companionship, financial reasons, to get help with household tasks and to improve their sense of security.
- This review identifies the impact of home sharing on older adults over the age of 55 years old and comments on possible improvements for future programs.
How the review was done
- A detailed search of fifteen electronic databases for studies published from 1989 to December 2018 was conducted. Studies were included if they focused on people over the age of 55 years old participating in home-sharing programs.
- A total of 1,398 studies were identified in the initial electronic database searches, and 6 studies were included in the review after assessment for eligibility.
- This review was funded by the Seniors Community Grant Program under the Government of Ontario, Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.
What the researchers found
- All included studies reported some form of benefit from the point of view of home-sharing providers and occupants. Specific benefits included increased companionship, increased support in daily tasks and financial benefits.
- Four studies reported certain disadvantages and challenges associated with home sharing. There were challenges with sharing space and coordinating time for support due to a loss of privacy and autonomy. Difficulties with adjusting to the presence of another person in the home was also reported as a challenge.
- The most common challenge that was shared in regards to home sharing was the loss of privacy and control over the household.
- Open communication was found to be an important facilitator and barrier for older adults participating in home sharing. Preferences for open communication depended on the person and included discussions surrounding household responsibilities, developing routines over time or wanting to have written descriptions of household tasks.
- Three studies discussed intergenerational home sharing as an enabler of social support and social contact for both older adults and young students who were involved. It is estimated that 75% of students viewed older adults more positively as a result of home-sharing, whereas 62% of home-sharing providers did not feel that living with a student improved their relationships with young people.
- This review found that older adults benefit from homes sharing by experiencing increased companionship, saving money and having constant social support. Some challenges that older adults face are sharing space, losing their privacy and maintaining interpersonal relationships with the people in the home. Future studies and home-sharing initiatives should facilitate communication between home providers and occupants and prioritize the needs of more impaired older adults.