Is shared living a potential solution for older Australians 55 and over

COVID-19 has heightened the phenomenon we know as loneliness, with organisations such as Lifeline and others reporting record high call volumes from people struggling.

In 2017, people aged 65 and over comprised 15.0% of Australia's total population, totalling around 3.8 million people, and this is expected to increase between 21.0% and 23.0% by 2066 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019). This report answers a timely question:

“Is shared living a potential solution for older Australians 55 and over in order to minimise financial stress and loneliness?”

The Study

Living alone is a significant contributor to general loneliness, particularly in the older community as it becomes more difficult to maintain a social circle. It is recognised that one in four Australians are lonely; especially widowed, divorced, or single individuals (APS, 2018).

Shared living for older Australians has increasingly appeared in studies in recent years as it is an attractive style of living for many. For older people, this could look like choosing to live with another older person, or sharing a home with younger families or singles.

The research focuses mainly on the suburbs of Inner Brisbane within 0-5km from the CBD, which includes: Brisbane City, Hendra, Kangaroo Point, New Farm, Paddington, Toowong, and West End.

This area was further filtered to include only suburbs within Statistical Area 2 boundaries (as per ABS) with the greatest proportion of older Australians aged 55 and over.

Key Findings

40.7% of the participants are experiencing financial struggles. This suggests financial struggle is the main consideration in regards to shared living. Loneliness is a key factor as well, with 22.0% of participants identifying this as a reason for opting into shared living.

Shared living has a strong potential to alleviate financial struggles and loneliness.

  • 58.3% of participants from the survey that said ‘yes’ to shared living were mostly private renters;
  • 16.7% of participants who were owner-occupiers named loneliness as a reason for shared living.

Read the full report here: Shared Living Preferences Of Older Australians Report 2020