Living at the age – Alternative residential forms

July 14, 2017, by EKUT

Deutsche Version >

By the demographic change in modern societies the health and care system are faced with many challenges. In this context, several changes in the composition of the population are summarized with the concept of the demographic change. This includes the rising life expectancy of the people, the decline of the birth rate, the increase of the proportion of the older people in the whole population and the increase of the number of the people with migration background[1].

In Germany, the life expectancy of the people is rising continuously over the years. Because of that the German Federal Statistical Office speaks of "high record of aged people" in Germany[2].

The reason for this “high record” depends on the income, education, nutrition, hygiene, healthy behavior and life-style as well as the increasingly better medical care. That’s why, the expectations of the living at the age changed during the last years. Subjects about the life at the age and the search for residential alternatives establish in the thinking of public discussion.

„The central meaning of the living for the physical and psychic well-being plays a bigger role in the age. Activities in and around the flat, becomes more important than in any other life phase“ (Buchen: 239).

Based on these developments a huge number of "alternative" residential forms has developed during the last years. For example, retirement homes, old people's homes and nursing homes. 

The following sections present some of these residential forms.

Firstly, for the people who can master their everyday life independently, there are supervised flat-sharing communities[3]. In these apartment-sharing communities, 6-8 people will live together. Common rooms, bath and kitchen are shared by the residents.

The inhabitants support mutually themselves by the mastering with routine tasks. The common rooms can be used by all members of the apartment-sharing community for integrative activities like celebrations, meetings and events. Furthermore, outpatient services can be used if needed. In addition, everybody disposes of a separated private area which serves for the maintenance of the privacy and the individual life style.

Similar to this residential form are the ambulatory supervised flat-sharing. Communities in which the life with care and mentoring/ support and the living in own flat are compatible. These allow people, which need care, a life in a common household with claim of external care services against remuneration. Here again the inhabitants dispose of own sleeping areas and share kitchen and living rooms.

The advantage of this community is that all services which all inhabitants need equally together can be claimed together (for example the house-economic care). Therefore, the services which only single people cannot finance can be realized by the means of the whole apartment-sharing community. This cost-effectiveness and integrative residential form shows an alternative to stationary nursing facilities.

On the other hand, there are so-called multigenerational houses[4], in which people from different generations, which aren’t related with each other, live together. These houses dispose of private areas and common rooms which serve as a platform. The background is about to network the inhabitants with each other, so that a mutual support and an exchange of experiences take place. The loneliness is thereby prevented at the age and the social contact is held straight, while older person are encountered on young people and can profit from one another.

The family structure in a multigenerational house should allow therefore an exchange of mutual assistances. In addition, nursing staff can be used also in multigenerational houses to support the inhabitants.

The last residential form shows the neighborhood concept. Here people live in usual residential districts till the old age. The overarching goal is to strengthen the neighborly and community-living in the quarters and at the same time to allow a very long and self-determined life.

Domestic care, ambulant help and general security is allowed to the inhabitants by the presence of the care bases in the quarter. This means that specialists of the outpatient services ensure 24-hour security of supply without charging any fees.

The residential forms presented above are judged by older people afterwards in which extent and how long they allow an independent lifestyle. Therefore, many survey results show that a large part would not like to depend at the age on the help of the adult children[5].

Because of this fact a great importance must be ascribed to the alternative residential forms also in the future. These allow, as is well known „private living and common life and place on the principle of the neighborly help and the intensity of the communal life is determined by the inhabitants themselves”[6].

Moreover it is important for alternative residential forms to take up culture-specific factors and wishes of the older migrants. Particularly in Germany the cultural-sensitive care play an important role. For example, the “migrant generation”, who came to work in Germany and stayed afterwards, has reached the retirement age. The finalized research project CarEMi, puts expectations and wishes in the focus of Turkish patients[7]. Because of that new residential projects were designed, like the Turkish apartment-sharing community for people in need of care in Stuttgart, Germany. The care – apartment-sharing community in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany - was especially conceived for Turkish-born people and carries the name "Emin Eller".

Here specific single cultural aspects as for example the national holidays, the language and the nursing staff with migration background are taken up in the apartment-sharing community to counteract on the one hand against the linguistic barrier and the information deficit linked with it and to allow on the other hand cultural-sensitive care.

Finally, it can be said that alternative residential forms show a chance for older people and allow the wish for a very self-determined life till the old age.

[1] Vgl. BMFSFJ: „Hintergrund: Demografischer Wandel“.

[2] Vgl. Pressemitteilung Statistisches Bundesamt 2016. 

[3] Vgl. Deutsches Seniorenportal.

[4] Vgl. Senioren Ratgeber. 

[5] Vgl. Voges.

[6] Vgl. Huber 2008: 79

[7] Vgl. CarEMi - Studie



Buchen, Sylvia; Maier, Maja S.: Älterwerden neu denken : Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf den demografischen Wandel. 1. Aufl.. Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer-Verlag, 2008.

Bundesministerium für Familien, Senioren und Jugend: „Hintergrund: Demografischer Wandel“. In Serviceportal zu Hause im Alter online verfügbar unter (zuletzt aufgerufen am 25.05.17)

CarEMi Studie: „Pflegevorstellung türkischer und türkisch-stämmiger Migrant_innen der ersten Gastarbeitergeneration“. Online verfügbar unter (zuletzt aufgerufen am 30.05.17)

Deutsches Seniorenportal: „Alternative Wohnformen“. Online verfügbar unter (zuletzt aufgerufen am 25.05.17)

Senioren Ratgeber: „Wohnen im Alter: Betreut oder allein?“. Online verfügbar unter: (zuletzt aufgerufen am 25.05.17)

Statistisches Bundesamt (Pressemitteilung 2016): „Lebenserwartung für Jungen 78 Jahre, für Mädchen 83 Jahre.“ Online verfügbar unter

Stuttgarter Nachrichten (2016): „Pflege-WG für Senioren mit türkischen Wurzeln“. Online verfügbar unter (zuletzt aufgerufen am 30.05.17)

Voges, Wolfgang; Zinke, Melanie: "Wohnen im Alter." Handbuch Soziale Arbeit und Alter (2010): 301-308.

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