Seniors Facing Big Decisions
Ron Greenwald understands seniors who are facing big decisions.
He explains, “Part of the mission of my work is that I am in a position to talk to the senior who is stressing about the decision to sell or stay in their home. The first question I ask is, ‘Will moving out of your home be the best decision for YOUR quality of life? (A great Private Fiduciary in San Diego once told me that we as professionals working with seniors must and need to instill in the senior that they are the Chief Executive Officer of their life. Lets help the senior own that thought as they move into their golden years.) Why am I, Ron Greenwald, Realtor, called to visit the potential seller?
Answer…An event has occurred that triggers the call to have a discussion about listing the family home of 40+ years for sale–Why? – maybe the homeowner(s) took a visit to a senior living community, suffered the passing of a loved one, had a fall, saw a TV ad, or had a conversation with a friend. I continue the discussion with, ‘Why are you doing this? What has been your thought process before you called me to your home?’ The time of the year may have a lot to do with a senior’s thinking about making a move and selling their home. Is it the cold months of winter, or that the Grandchildren have not been out to visit for several months, or is it the hot summer months that has taken its toll? I take time to discuss, explore, and educate the senior about all their housing choices. Before making a decision to take on the challenges of packing, staging, selling, and moving, I tell them, “Sleep on it for a day, a week, a month.” Ron continues his insights.
Are You a Senior Facing a Housing Change? Consider the Following:
Six questions to help you decide the best option for housing.
1. Is moving your best option?
Certainly the vast majority of people wish to stay in their home as long as possible. It is a small percentage of seniors who pro-actively seek out a senior retirement community prior to a life altering event. The key is quality of life. Living alone in your home concerns me because it can lead to loneliness. Obviously there is a tendency for some people who live alone to not eat at regular times and prepare well balanced meals.As a result, one’s health will suffer. This can result in a series of events that spiral out of control. Far too often, the end result is a family frantically searching for a place to move their parent in a 24 to 48 hour period as they have received notice of termination from the rehabilitation facility. You want to make that decision with all the knowledge of what is available, what is the monthly cost, what are the amenities, what is best for you, the senior who will be living in a new community for years to come. For those individuals who can thrive with friends and family yet live alone, the key to aging in place is to be proactive with making one’s home safe from the number one reason that a senior ends up in the hospital and that is FALLING.
2. Is it feasible to upgrade your home and address senior safety issues?
Yes, it’s very feasible. Support bars, ramps, lifts and walk- in- showers can be added to address mobility issues. What is the number one thing that sends people to skilled nursing homes? Broken hips. And what causes a broken hip? A fall. There are organizations that will do an assessment of your home to make it safe for seniors. Don’t wait until you fall. Install the necessary equipment early so it’s in place when you need it.
3. Would you be happier and healthier with home care?
It depends. Make sure you go to an reputable agency that is vetting their employees beyond just the interview process. Background checks, references, and more. You want to see the background check before you let a stranger into your home. As you may be aware, a significant percentage of financial abuse victims are at the hands of a “caregiver.” NEVER, EVER,NEVER hire a caregiver through a internet site such as Craig’s List or even a referral from a neighbor. There are outstanding homecare companies that do a wonderful job caring for you and respecting your property. The person receiving the care must also understand that the quality of cooking may not be exactly as delicious as when you, the senior, were preparing the meals for the family. The cleaning may not be as perfect as when you were able to manage your own home. Overall home care can provide what you’re looking for and that is to allow you to stay in your home. You just need to be discerning.
4. Do you have the right support within a practical range?
Are you willing to accept support?If you are going to stay in your home, having the “right” family members close by is highly preferred. Does your son or daughter call you once a day to see if you got out of bed, to see if you took a shower, did you cook yourself a healthy meal, and more. All of this can be done in a loving, nonintrusive way. That support is priceless. Unfortunately, sometimes the “support” comes from those family members who do will do very little as they wait for their “loved one” to pass. Obviously, the support needs to be genuine. The other key to aging-in-place is to accept the role reversal that is inevitable from the senior being the parent to the daughter or son become the parent to their parent(s). If you as the senior can and will embrace the good intentions of your children to do the right thing, it can go a long way to helping your quality of life as they look after your mental and physical well being.
5. Are you prepared to combat elder abuse as a senior?
Elder abuse is really a tough subject for seniors to admit. There is physical abuse and financial abuse. As unfortunate and frightening as it seems, physical abuse may be happening amongst family members. Financial abuse happens more frequently from outside influences. It’s not a matter of if you are going to get hit, but rather when and how frequently. We’ve had stories of scammers posing as FBI agents coming to a senior’s door to perpetrate their crime.
It is crucial for you to open up, on a continual basis, to your most trusted advisor- CPA, attorney, pastor, family– who only ask for appropriate financial compensation (if any) from you. Go to them for answers to your questions like, “I just got this advertisement in the mail. What do you think of it?” Your financial security will depend on it. Realize these scam artists are professionals who have practiced and perfected their evil ways. Never, under any circumstances, should a senior be ashamed, embarrassed, or inhibited from reporting abuse crimes to the police or Adult Protective Services.
6. What about the costs of staying at home verses a moving to a Senior Living Community?
It’s not a simple question. The answer is multi-faceted. Depending on the level of assisted care you require on a daily basis will determine if aging-in-place or a senior living community is the less expensive path. Obviously, the senior living community has the economics of scale to be less expensive than if you require significant hours each day of in home care. One of the major issues that seniors fail to take into consideration when deciding to stay in their home is the cost of maintaining an older house. When a senior loses some capacity both physical and mental, far too many times, we see a home that deteriorates significantly over time as they live in a home that is not safe. Do you need a new roof? Are there other upgrades that are necessary? After weighing all the financial and emotional points of aging in place compared to a senior living community, having an open and frank discussion with yourself, your family, and trusted advisers and remembering you are the Chief Executive Officer of your life, you will make the right decision.