Boomer roomies: Older Americans are seeking roommates

Dina Wilcox and Anne Fry are not just roommates, they're best friends. A few years ago, however, they barely knew each other, reports CBS News correspondent Vinita Nair.

The pair, who often finishes each others' sentences, has lived together in a 1,200-square foot apartment in Harlem for the past two years.

Wilcox was living alone after her husband's death, having downsized from a big house in the suburbs to a two-bedroom apartment in New York.

She met Fry, who was divorced and new to New York, at a learning seminar. Then Wilcox heard Fry talking about her battle with breast cancer and how she could no longer afford her rent because of her medical bills. On a whim, she asked Fry to move in.

"And the next thing I knew I was running down the block after her, calling her," Wilcox said.

"I started to cry and said, 'This isn't going to work, I have to sell everything I have and move into this one little bedroom with only one closet,'" Fry said. "And within a day or two, I think I came back and I said I'd be foolish not to move in here."

Wilcox and Fry are part of a growing number of older Americans sharing apartments and houses. Linda Hoffman, president of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, said applications for senior roommates in New York have tripled over the past six years. She said sharing finances is not the only motivation for seniors.

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Roommates Ann Fry and Dina Wilcox
Courtesy of Ann Fry and Dina Wilcox

"I think it can be very lonely and it can cause depression if one is unable to get out as often as possible," Hoffman said. "There are individuals who have no family. And this is sort of a situation where built-in friendships can occur."

These ladies not only share rent and household chores, they also share a message. They started a blog called SeniorFlatmates.com, with the hope that other seniors can benefit from what they've learned.

"I think we feel probably closer to each other than we do to a lot of other people in our lives," Fry said.

"It adds a richness that I cannot even describe," Wilcox said. "Someone will be here to talk to and to share stuff with and to go out for a glass of wine with."

The current lease is for one year.

"The plan we are making now for when the lease ends is that we are going to look for another apartment together if we don't stay here," Wilcox said. "So, it's just we make it up as we go along."

"It is open ended," Fry said.

"It's just life," Wilcox said.

"But life is open ended," Fry responded.

Both ladies say they would love to meet a man and get married again, but until that happens -- they have each other.

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