Home Age & Care Shared apartments for seniors

Shared apartments for seniors

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 388 views

Aging together

Shared apartments are known as a form of housing for younger people during training and studies. When older people set up shared accommodation, it is less about financial savings and more about fighting loneliness in old age together. Other seniors want to try something new with like-minded people after they graduate from work and parenting.

The advantage of a flat share is that the residents can withdraw as they please, but can also do something together. This ranges from excursions, going to concerts, cooking and eating together to housework, which can be done faster and better together.

In 2003, there were around 250 housing projects in Germany with some 1,000 flat shares, as estimated by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Board of Trustees for German Aid for the Elderly (KDA) in their first publication on housing concepts for old age.

Greater freedom

Seniors usually have a greater need for privacy than young people. Shared flats for seniors are therefore structured differently: They offer better opportunities to retreat, the individual living areas are more like self-contained apartments than the rooms in a student digs. However, a new generation of seniors is maturing: Many of today’s 50 to 60 year olds have already gained experience in shared flats as young people and should have fewer reservations about this.

Compared to a retirement or nursing home , the residents of a shared apartment are much more free in their way of life. You don’t have to stick to fixed wake-up, meal or bed times and can design your shared room yourself. They also bring their own furniture and decide together how they want to design the common areas.

Long preparation

Shared flats for the elderly are not prefabricated like retirement homes, for example. The future residents have to plan a longer preparation time. First, suitable roommates have to be found who will still harmonize with each other even after months and years.

If you don’t have any co-founders in your circle of friends, you should first take a close look at potential candidates. One possibility is contact exchanges for seniors that offer district centres, old people’s associations and housing advice.

In any case, activity is required if seniors want to tackle the “WG” project. This applies to everything for flat shares that organize themselves completely. There should be a spokesperson who has primary responsibility and is a negotiating partner for others (e.g. landlords, architects, neighbours). Most flatmates are relatively young retirees who still have enough energy and passion to get involved in the planning phase. They plan for a time when everything should run smoothly and the atmosphere is still right.

Tip: The Forum Gemeinliches Wohnen eV (FGW) offers a contact exchange for those interested in senior citizens’ flat shares: www.fgw-ev.de

Plan for care needs

It should also be considered that you or a roommate could later become in need of care . In this case, there are different solutions within the shared flats. You should think about strategies together before you start sharing a flat if one or more roommates need help around the clock. Mutual help could quickly reach its limits, especially if all residents of the shared flat are about the same age and have a similar risk of needing care. For example, three fit people can hardly take care of four people in need of care. An outpatient care service can be financed more cost-effectively if the caregiver looks after several residents during one visit.

Assisted living communities are even better tailored to the needs of those in need of care. Here, a permanent team of caregivers and housekeeping staff is part of the concept right from the start. Similar to nursing homes, there are assisted living communities that offer comprehensive care even for serious, care-intensive illnesses such as advanced dementia or bedridden. In most cases, however, these are not flat-sharing communities that arise from the initiative of the residents, but facilities that are subject to the home law.


The first thing to do is find an affordable apartment that offers enough space and allows the desired room layout. The best place to live is in a part of the city that the future residents already know well.

A familiar environment later makes it easier for the flatmates to leave their apartment to go for a walk or to go shopping and to take part in social and cultural life.

Once the right domicile has been chosen, you may have to plan some conversion measures . These should be completed before the new residents move in, because subsequent installations and conversions are usually cumbersome and expensive. For example, wide aisles and doors are important for residents who rely on a walker . All residents should participate in the development of the new living environment.

culture of life and debate

If several residents live under one roof, even with a balanced mixture of personalities, there will not be any small disputes. Representing one’s own opinion, addressing grievances, resolving misunderstandings and disputes promotes communication skills and keeps the soul young. The residents often afford a cleaning help or a shopping service right from the start so that they don’t get at each other’s hair over annoying little things .

Overall, however, the positive exchange with new suggestions and impulses prevails for most. One finds an open ear for problems in the family, the other feels needed because he can listen and has useful tips ready.

residential projects

There are already housing projects in various cities that you can join as a resident. Associations advise founders on what to look out for when planning a housing project. This can be a flat-sharing community, but also a whole house that seniors live together. There are also projects where young and old live under one roof. But they exchange ideas more intensively than in a “normal” house community.

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