Italy is aging and shared accommodation is becoming the norm

Many over seventy year olds are considering cohousing as a residential solution


The population in Italy is getting older and older. According to Istat's photography, "As of 1st January 2019, there are 13.8 million over 65 year olds and these represent 22.8% of the total population. This category of the population has shown an increase in 560 thousand units compared to 1st January 2015 and the category of even older people has reached a significant figure. There are about 2.2 million people aged 85 or over, 3.6% of the total population. The Bel paese, moreover, holds the European record, together with France, for the highest number of living centenarians. There are over 14.000 according to estimates."

Istat recently announced pension figures: "in 2017 pensioners received on average a gross income of 17.886 euros. Women's pensions, on average, were almost 6.000 euros less than men's. The differences between North and South were wide: the average amount in the North-East was 20.7% higher than that of the South. (18.2% in 2016, 8.8 in 1983, the first data available.)

In the light of this evidence, more and more people, not only in old age, are beginning to think about the future, and trying to understand what may be the most appropriate solution, should they no longer be able to both economically and physically continue living isolated in their own home.

In addition to Care and Retirement Homes, there is an alternative that people are starting to consider in Italy too: co housing. Although Italy is noticeably late, compared to other countries, this form of cohabitation, founded in Denmark in the 60s and widespread today in Northern Europe, in the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan, represents an interesting solution for the cohabitation of people in old age.

We have already illustrated this model in a previous article in which each resident, as well as having a space in which to live, alone or in pairs, shares common areas and services. In these residential houses you are in contact with peers and, at the same time, assistance is guaranteed (for example medical-nursing services) In this way, safe environments are created that are reasonable for everyone, as they also share the expenses. Families today are less likely to guarantee daily assistance to the elderly. Care homes as well as carers can have prices that not everyone can afford.

This form of cohabitation also has a value from the psychological point of view. Many people who get to an old age are still independent and have a strong tendency to socialize. For this social category, living independently, albeit in a residential complex, combines the advantages of autonomy while saving money by sharing basic costs.

These co housing residential areas are built with greater attention to the users who will have to live there and this represents a further step forward compared to the important approach of the removal of architectural barriers in the home. In particular, environments such as the bathroom or the kitchen, which are places where accidents can happen, partly because of the activities we do there and partly because these areas are usually smaller than the other rooms. They must be suitable for the elderly, equipped with aids, showers instead of bathtubs, sinks at the right height and furniture that is easy to open. Finally, cohousing significantly reduces hospitalization, as the elderly are assisted where they reside.

The only problem can in found in the time needed to construct these residential areas, usually two years, and find the number of people willing to share this life experience.

Considering that, according to some estimates, in 2030 there will be about 2 billion elderly people in the world, maybe the time has come to reflect on this issue as well.