Care and Share With The Elderly

While you're weighing up various options for rented accommodation, you may well wish to consider if the opportunity to care and share with the elderly suits you. What normally happens is a younger person moves into and shares the home of a single, elderly person and pays either an affordable rent - or even no rent - while doing so.

We're pleased to note that this phenomenon is growing in popularity and that there are a number of charitable organisations helping to match up elderly and younger people to share a home in this way.

Why Would I Share Accommodation With An Elderly Person Whom I Don't know?

The opportunity to live somewhere rent free or for a very low rent is a clear incentive. However there's potentially much more to gain for both parties and many people who have shared or are currently sharing in this way, both old and young, have reported great happiness and mutual satisfaction as a result of the arrangement.

This writer shared accommodation with an elderly lady aged more than 80 years old, who had mobility issues, for 2 years. The arrangement worked very similarly to that described above: I lived in a spare room, rent free and both our qualities of life improved.

I carried out tasks that the lady in question could no longer achieve, which included, for example, managing her shopping and cooking her 2 meals per day. I greatly enjoyed her company - and I sincerely hope she enjoyed mine(!) - and I benefited from observing and learning from her seasoned attitude to many of life's tribulations.

The practice has been increasing in popularity and in large part because it addresses 2 key modern issues, the first of which Share a Mortgage was founded to alleviate and the second one is an increasingly growing and sad fact of modern life:

  • 1 The continuing and worsening UK Housing Crisis; and

  • 2 The increasing loneliness in UK society, in particular felt by the growing numbers of elderly people.

According to the UK Office of National Statistics the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to reach 3.5 million by 2035, 2.5 times larger than in 2010.

Elderly people in modern society very often end up alone when one spouse dies and their children have often moved too far away to be an active part of their lives. As age progresses, they often have to face up to the possibility of either moving into an expensive care home or even a basic one run by the state.

It can only be a good thing that there is clearly another alternative and one which, when it works well, greatly raises the standard of living of both people involved.

Loneliness: what is the scale of the problem?

  • 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely, according to a study by the Co-op and the British Red Cross.

  • A third of people with dementia said they lost friends following the diagnosis and almost 1 in 10 only leave the house once a month, according to the Alzheimer's Society.

  • More than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control, according to Independent Age.

  • Some 3.6 million people aged 65 and over agree that the television is their main form of company, according to Age UK.

  • Loneliness could be costing the UK economy £32 billion each year, according to the Eden Project Initiative.

  • Loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 1/3 and is 'as damaging to health as not exercising', according to the Jo Cox Foundation.

Caring and Sharing: the BBC reports

The BBC has done great work in drawing attention to the opportunities for younger people in caring and sharing for the elderly.

It has released a short video through many multimedia outlets which gives a 'live' case study, involving a foreign student, Alexandra, 27, haring a home with Florence, a 95 years old lady.

The video is touching and it's quite easy to see that the friendship which both have developed with each other is of great benefit to both.

Click to view Florence's and Alexandra's Caring and Sharing Story on the BBC's website (page contains the video).

How can I find out more about sharing a house with an elderly person?

Professional organisations which you can find out more about online include:

Readers over 55 might also be interested to find out more about the Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme

We're very keen to offer advice and encouragement to you should you wish to share a property with an elderly person. We're also keen to hear your sharing stories: feel free to call us on 0333 344 3234 or email us at