As these & # 39; Golden Girls & # 39; overcome the chances of loneliness


"Okay, Mary, you're going to make four cups of chicken broth."

Barb Coughlin, 71, is assigning kitchen chores for the day. "Phyllis, cut the chicken. I'm going to cut some onions."

There is a prenatal lunch to prepare, so the cooks are at high speed. But with all the cut and cut, there's a good deal of laughter.

"They think this is a party house," Coughlin said, referring to friends who are a bit jealous of the three women's living arrangements.

We do not like to live alone anymore. We did not laugh much.– Barb Coughlin

Earlier this year, Coughlin, Mary Townley, 71, and Phyllis Brady, 66 – all baby boomers and long-time friends – decided to change the housing scheme.

They sold their homes, made some serious removals of appliances and furniture, gathered their finances and, in the summer, moved to their new shared home in London, Ontario.

Townley, right, and Brady are busy preparing a stewed chicken in time for Christmas. (Kas Roussy / CBC)

Co-housing a beautiful model & # 39;

It's called co-housing, a move that took off in the 1970s in Denmark, and this sort of arrangement among the elderly is a growing trend in Canada, whether it's people sharing a house or a larger apartment complex.

"It's really a beautiful model," said Adriana Shnall, an aging specialist at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.

"Living together, people have a community, and especially people who lived in a family, a partner, children, you get older, you lose all those supports that are inherent in living with others."

Living together, people have a community.– Adriana Shnall, an aging specialist at Baycrest Health Sciences

Brady, Coughlin, and Townley lived alone for the past decade. Two are widowed, one is divorced and his children grew up and left.

The idea of ​​dividing a house, according to them, summed up the need for company.

"We did not like to live alone anymore," Coughlin said.

It's a holiday season with a difference for these friends. They are spending together under one roof. The trio bought this house earlier this year and is now co-housing. (Craig Chivers / CBC)

Townley said, "I did not mind being alone sometimes, but there are other times when you think, 'I'd like to have someone to talk to.' 'Not over the phone, it's much better face-to- with a cup of wine, and just talk. "

An increasing epidemic

Loneliness among the elderly is a growing epidemic in Canada. Statistics Canada reports more than a million old people say they are lonely. Being alone also has profound consequences for health. It decreases cognitive function. It increases premature death as well as the risk of heart attack, stroke, depression and risk of falls.

This last point is important, especially for older adults. That's why the women made sure that the house they bought had only a few steps. Each has its own bedroom and bathroom and, as Brady is the youngest, she receives the teenager's room in the finished basement.

Near the bar, they add.

Co-housing also means that they share the accounts and responsibilities of the home, such as paying the remainder of the cost of a new awning.

The women have been co-housing since the summer. They share kitchen duties as well as accounts and other responsibilities of the home. (Craig Chivers / CBC)

But co-housing goes beyond practical financial arrangements, Shnall said. "It's cheaper to live with someone else, but it's also better for our physical health and our mental health."

Back in the kitchen, with the chicken stew almost ready, roommates in London know that living together means eating better and healthier. As for fellowship, there is always someone around for a walk, a lecture or just a simple hello.

"I'm going upstairs, and my friends are here having breakfast." "Good morning, Phyllis, how are you?" Brady said.

When asked if there is any regret, it is a quick and unanimous "no".

"If we can be independent and be in this kind of situation for the next 20 years, that would be great," Brady said.


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