Airbnb Meets Senior Living for Women Baby Boomers

While baby boomers are still roughly a decade away from bombarding assisted living facilities in droves, one roommate-pairing service plans to cash-in on the growing phenomenon of boomers and shared housing.

Modeling itself much like online dating service eHarmony, Roommates4Boomers (R4B) aims to help women in the age-50 and older demographic find housing options suited to their needs with others in the same age group.

The concept is born as popularity grows for shared housing concepts among older adults like “Golden Girls-style” living arrangements, where two or more women in their later years roomie-up to not only foster greater companionship, but also split the costs of living.

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“Especially in cities that can be expensive, like San Francisco, a woman who is divorced or a widow might not be able to continue affording to live where they do,” Roommates4Boomers Founder Karen Venable tells SHN.

Women age 55 and over can access the Roommates4Boomers webpage, whether they are looking for housing or if they would like to list their own residence to share with another person.

Using similar match criteria as a dating service might, Roommates4Boomers uses a detailed profile system to pair women with similar preferences, attitudes, tastes and habits. Women who show a high degree of compatibility have the chance to contact one another through the R4B membership site and explore house-sharing possibilities.

Targeting only women has largely to do with demographic trends, specifically when considering the disproportion in mortality rates between males and females.

While the percentage of the total male population from the baby boomer generation is higher than that of the female boomer population between 1945 and 2004, this pattern becomes reversed after 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in a publication titled “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060” in May.

Shortly after 1960, approximately 39% of the U.S. population was male baby boomers, while roughly 36% was female, according to Figure 5 in the Census Bureau report. Only after 2005—when each sex accounted for approximately 26% of the population—did women boomers begin to surpass the males in their generation.

“Males generally have higher mortality rates than females at every age,” write researchers Sandra Colby and Jennifer Ortman of the Census Bureau’s Populations Projections Branch. “These higher mortality rates translate into sex differences in the older population, where women outnumber men.”

But even as this generation is also projected to dwindle—representing 2.4 million Americans by 2060—as older members of the cohort die and younger ones age, baby boomers and housing are often inextricable.

Furthermore, as this demographic ages, turning 65 at its long-heralded 10,000-person daily rate, boomers will continue to pose serious implications for health care and the nation’s housing supply.

But in the near term, aging in place continues to remain the preferred lifestyle among a majority of boomers—71% of adults ages 50 to 64, according to AARP data earlier this year. However, providing the necessary services to facilitate these desires have been an obstacle to enable successful aging in place.

Roommates4Boomers recently expanded its relationship with several aging in place organizations in San Francisco, Florida and one national network in efforts to increase its exposure.

Next Village San Francisco, the Living in Community Network in Sarasota, Fla., along with national grassroots organization Village to Village Network are now sharing information of R4B with its members to make them aware of the service’s ability to find compatible roommates for shared living options.

Both Village to Village Network and Next Village San Francisco support the ability to age in place by coordinating access to affordable and volunteer-provided services for older adults. Such services include providing their members with access transportation, health and wellness programs, as well as social and educational activities.

The newly forged relationships expand Roommates4Boomers’ existing agreement with TTN-HOME, a special program of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of The Transition Network, a national organization that provides various social networking opportunities for women over 50 via a variety of peer and special interest groups ranging from business networking and cultural events, to gourmet dining and book clubs.

Since moving in with someone new can be stressful, especially later in life, Roommates4Boomers believes that teaming up with organizations such as these will not only spread the word about the company’s service offerings, but will provide some additional safety assurance in shared housing.

“It’s hard for someone to move in with someone else—a lot of this has to deal with trust issues,” says Venable. “Having Roommates4Boomers affiliated with these well-recognized organizations proves that someone can find shared housing and do it safely.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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