POSSSLQ is the phrase that Sharon and Deb use for their relationship. When they got in touch with me and I read their booklet, POSSSLQ: ELDERS LIVING OUTSIDE THE BOX, I was deeply gratified and excited. Their experience is one that I know is possible if and when we are open to it. It goes beyond simply sharing a roof over one’s heads. They are truly home-mates who having found each other have made life infinitely better for each other, and are a great example of the benefits of seniors sharing housing. But I’ll let them tell the tale. Here are Sharon and Deb.
Elders Living Outside the Box
The word POSSLQ (pronounced possle-que) is a term created by the US Census Bureau to handle all the people in the early 1970’s who lived together but didn’t fit into the boxes marked “Single” or “Married.” POSSLQ stood for “Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.” This is the story of two women who re-defined POSSLQ —and in the process, redefined their lives as well.
Sharon Kha’s Story
I didn’t want to be a burden to my family, and I was teetering on the edge of becoming one. After 13 years of Parkinson’s Disease, I was staring it in the eyeball. It was either assisted living or having someone move in to assist me in getting dressed and be there if I fell in the night, and cook my dinner. I really was the least attractive potential home-mate one could imagine.
Deb wanted to be free of financial burdens like mortgages and debt that had piled up, and I was offering free rent and use of half of my house We were both very clear about what we needed from this relationship and from the first moment it was as though we both had secret knowledge that this was going to work if we gave it a chance.
At our first meeting I was disconcerted when Deb said “I have been looking for intimacy and it just dawned on me that if I want intimacy I need to be with people.”
Intimacy! My mind raced. I was looking for a home-mate, not a lover. My voice shook a little as I said “Intimacy?”
Deb nodded. “ It’s having someone who knows what time you were expected home and worries when you’re not back on time. It’s someone who brings you a cup of coffee on a morning you are running late. It’s someone who will chase the spider out of your bathroom . It’s getting an answer when you hold up two outfits and say “Which one should I wear?” It’s never having to worry about whether you will get any birthday cards this year. It’s being on the inside looking out, not the outside looking in.”
Intimacy, the way Deb described it is the antidote to the loneliness of aging and it is what we all crave without even knowing it because it fulfills our deepest desire to be connected to other people and have them be connected to us. What Deb and I found was neither a business nor a romantic relationship; it was a rich, deep, surprising friendship that was a financial win-win as well.
Deb Knox’s Story
Intimacy.. such a scary word unfortunately in our society today. I hope the definition we’ve given here resonates with you. If so, you are like so many other boomers and those younger and older who are concerned about living alone and being isolated. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Sharon and I have been very fortunate – must be a better word than that – to have developed the friendship that we have over our 10 months together. It’s hard to remember that just a year ago this was still a wish, a dream and a hope.
The story goes on as do our lives together and apart. If you are interested in contemplating this kind of arrangement, we strongly encourage you to check out Annamarie’s Compatability Assessment. Sharon and I covered a lot of this territory in our early conversations, and these are the important topics.
If you’re lucky as we were, you’ll find your POSSSLQ. Oh yes, we changed the original Census Bureau’s definition to suit our circumstances. PEOPLE OF SIMILAR SENSIBILITIES SHARING LIVING QUARTERS!
What are your sensibilities and how can they create magic with another?
Sharon Kha and Deb Knox are the co-authors of POSSSLQ: ELDER LIVING OUTSIDE THE BOX. They are happy sharing housing in Tucson, AZ and look forward to hearing from others, who are interested in sharing housing, with the extra “twist” of being a companion/caregiver!
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Last Updated on January 14, 2020 by Bob Sherwood
I love this re-definition of intimacy. As a seasoned psychotherapist I hear many clients pining for “a relationship” like it’s the only avenue to intimacy. I empathize. For most of my adult life I believed that “real” intimacy always had a component of romance, that is sexuality. I lived alone then. Now in my late 50’s, divorced and childless, I’ve had a home-mate for three years. A gentleman I care about and who cares about me, yet we’re not a couple. We care about each other in some very simple, practical and personal ways – everything that Sharon and Deb described, including being each other’s fashion consultant! That soothes the loneliness. Having someone to care about in my home and knowing he cares back.
What a lovely article. That is just the kind of intimacy I am longing for in a home sharing situation. Thank you for publishing this Annamarie.
hi Delores, I am looking for this too.
We have a closed FB group. Look for Hello Home-mate and come join. It’s a way to help you all find each other.