Once an older loved one decides to move to a senior living community, there are many decisions to make. One is when to list the senior’s house. For many people, a home is their biggest asset. The proceeds from its sale are needed to help finance this transition.
There’s no doubt about it, however, that moving can be stressful at any age. It’s especially true when it comes to an older person who has lived in their home for decades. They may have an emotional attachment to it that dates back to raising a family there.
So, how can you tell when the best time to sell a senior’s home is? We have some tips that might be helpful in making this decision.
Questions to Consider When Selling a Senior’s Home
- Are the proceeds from the home’s sale needed to finance this move?
For most people, a house is their largest asset. The equity in the home might be needed to finance this next chapter in life. If moving to senior living before the house is sold seems like the best choice, bridge loans might help.
These special types of loans will allow the older adult to use the equity in their house to pay for the monthly fees and expenses associated with moving. They essentially bridge the gap in financing. Once the house is sold, the senior can pay off the loan. Bridge loans are available from a variety of banks and lenders, as well as companies like Elder Life Financial and Second Act Financial Services.
- Can the senior keep the house show ready while living there?
Living in a house while it is on the market can be challenging. Buyers often have high expectations. A clean, clutter-free home gives buyers the impression that the home is well maintained. If you are in the process of downsizing and packing, keeping the house show ready at all times can be tough.
If it seems unrealistic for the senior to keep their home ready on short notice, selling after the move may be better. A professional home stager can be utilized afterward to help ensure the home looks warm and welcoming.
- Are your schedules flexible enough to accommodate multiple showings?
Potential buyers often have busy work schedules or come from out-of-town to find a house. This can translate to showings at odd hours. In a hot real estate market like the current one, a senior seller might also have multiple showings a day with many short notice requests.
Most times, the real estate agent will ask that homeowners leave the house for showings. This can be another inconvenience, especially for older adults who have mobility challenges. It is important to consider whether these interruptions will present a hardship.
- Will the senior’s budget accommodate paying for their house and monthly fees at a senior living community?
If an aging loved one moves before listing their home and it doesn’t sell as quickly as expected, will their budget accommodate the cost of two homes? Or will it cause too much stress? The housing market can be unpredictable. It’s important that you are realistic about how long the senior will be able to pay expenses in two locations.
Senior Move Managers and Certified Real Estate Agents
As you work your way through the decision-making process with your family member, there are two groups of professionals you may want to contact. One is a senior move manager®, and the other is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®). Both are expert at handling the unique needs of seniors who are transitioning from a private residence to a retirement community or simply to a smaller space.
Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana
Heritage has senior living communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana. Every day we work with adult children trying to find a community that is a good fit for their family members’ needs. We can also help create a transition plan for moving. Call the Heritage community nearest you to learn more!
My dad’s health has been gradually declining over the past few years. During that time, my husband, children, and I have been helping him out around the house and with transportation. I’ve also started preparing most of his meals. It’s become a near full-time role for me.
While we’ve managed so far, my siblings are always complaining about what I do and don’t do for my dad. Both live nearby but neither one pitches in to help. It’s causing friction between my husband and I as he sees the physical and emotional toll it’s taking on me.
The time has come to have an honest discussion with my siblings about their behavior and lack of support. I’m just not sure how to do that. Do you have any advice?
Sophia in Grand Haven, MI
Working Together to Support an Aging Parent
First, know that we often hear from others in the same situation. Watching a parent’s decline stirs up difficult and complex emotions. In many families, one sibling shoulders the primary responsibilities of caregiving. That said, it doesn’t make your situation any easier. But I have a few suggestions that might be useful.
- Create a current task list: List the tasks and errands your family helps your father with. It’s probably a good idea to separate these items by frequency. Make a column for daily tasks like assisting your dad with his showers and a column for weekly chores like lawn care. A third column can be used for intermittent tasks like transportation and snow removal.
- Make a to-do list: Also make a list of items that you haven’t gotten around to. This can include household maintenance like painting the front door or fixing a broken handle.
- Share responsibilities: Think through everything you do for your father. Which tasks do you want to continue doing? Which would you like help with? Your siblings may even need to take over for a while if you and your husband need a break.
- Schedule a family meeting: Once you have organized your thoughts and needs, you and your husband should meet with your siblings. It may help to email them the list of chores you created. Let them know you are looking to work together to split up the responsibilities more equitably.
- Invite an unbiased advisor: Some families find it useful to enlist the services of an aging life care professional. They can mediate family disagreements and assist in hiring and supervising in-home care professionals. Also known as geriatric care managers, they are experts in navigating the search for a senior living community.
One final suggestion is to consider a week or two of respite care at an assisted living center for your father. He might enjoy having caregivers nearby 24/7 and the opportunity to socialize with his peers. The break will also give you time to work through the situation with your siblings.
I hope this is helpful, Sophia! Please feel free to contact me or a member of one of our local Heritage communities if you have any questions!
My husband and I have decided it’s time to move to a senior living community. We have a large home in northern Michigan that we raised our family in. Now it’s too much to maintain. It’s costing us too much time and money.
Our goal is to start downsizing our house in preparation for a move this summer. Because we’ve lived here for so many years, the task feels overwhelming. We are hoping to find a two-bedroom apartment in a senior living community, so I know we will have to find new homes for a lot of our belongings.
Do you have any tips for helping us through this process? We could really use some advice.
Kelly in Glen Arbor, MI
Tips to Downsize Before a Move to Senior Living
You aren’t alone! In fact, older adults often say downsizing is one of the leading reasons they delay moving, even when they are more than ready for change. My first piece of advice is to take your time downsizing, whenever possible. Since it sounds like you are already planning ahead, you are off to a good start.
Keep the following suggestions in mind when downsizing:
- Decide what matters most.
Which pieces of furniture and belongings mean the most to you? Are there items you just can’t part with? Create a list of things you treasure most. Keep in mind that a senior living apartment won’t have as much space as a house. Also, create a separate list of important items that will need to be rehomed with a friend or loved one.
- Secure treasured possessions.
Downsizing and moving can be a hectic, messy process. Before things become too rushed, find a place to securely store family heirlooms and other valuable possessions. Smaller items might be best placed in a safe or safe deposit box. Bigger items might need to go to a climate-controlled storage unit or a friend’s house that has extra space. This step can prevent important items from being misplaced or damaged. It also makes the closets and drawers look more spacious to potential buyers.
- Start in least used rooms.
The process of downsizing usually goes more smoothly when you work through the house room-by-room. Start in rooms that you don’t use often, such as your children’s old rooms, the attic, or basement. Sort items into boxes according to their final destination, such as “give to family” or “donate to charity.”
- Explore local charities that accept donations.
Another item to put on your to-do list is to explore local nonprofit agencies that accept donations. You’ll likely have clothing, household items, furniture, and outdoor items that need to be donated. Having a plan for unneeded items before you begin downsizing can make the process easier. Some nonprofits have pickup services for furniture and multiple boxes of smaller items, which can be especially helpful.
Create a Floor Plan
Finally, once you’ve chosen a senior living community to call home, you can plan more specific details. Create a floor plan that shows the dimensions, doorways, and windows for each room in your new apartment.
Measure each piece of furniture or household item you’d like to take with you. Map out your new home’s floor plan on graph paper or use a free online tool like Roomstyler or HomeByMe. This will give you and your husband a good idea about what will or won’t fit in the new space.
I hope this helps, Kelly! As you and your husband explore senior living communities in Michigan, please keep Heritage on your list. With locations throughout Michigan, you’ll likely find a community that best meets your needs and interests.
My siblings and I have been dividing up caregiving duties for our father for several years. We all live about the same distance from him, and it’s worked well until recently. Dad’s personal care needs have increased, and we are struggling to keep up with everything.
My brothers and I think it is time to consider assisted living. My dad has gotten a little unsteady on his feet and has come close to falling several times. He’s also isolated living in his big house alone. I worry something will happen to him, and we won’t know.
Could moving to an assisted living community help my dad? How will moving benefit him?
Tina in Midland, MI
Benefits of Assisted Living Communities
While every situation is unique, some red flags indicate an older adult might not be safe living alone in their home. Your dad seems to be displaying some of the most common ones. Choosing to make a move before an emergency arises gives you more time to make an informed decision.
If you are trying to talk with your dad about the benefits of assisted living, here are a few points to include:
- Environment: Assisted living communities are designed with senior safety in mind. Some of the standard features and amenities may offer the support your dad needs. Handrails in hallways, accessible bathrooms, grab bars in key locations, good lighting, and single-floor living are a few.
- Socialization: Loneliness and isolation are linked to a decline in health among older people. So, you are right to worry about your dad feeling lonely. It can contribute to depression, loss of core strength, diabetes, cardiac disease, and more. In an assisted living community, residents benefit from formal and informal activities throughout the day.
- Nutrition: Depending on the community, residents usually enjoy a variety of in-house dining and menu options. Seniors who move to an assisted living community often find their health improves simply by having easy access to well-balanced meals. Research shows that poor nutrition is sometimes linked to a higher risk for falls.
- Transportation: One of the services assisted living residents use most often is transportation. Residents can go on planned community outings, such as to a local shopping mall or restaurant. In addition, they can schedule transportation for appointments. This service allows seniors to maintain a sense of independence.
- Medication management: Assisted living caregivers also handle all the details of managing residents’ medications. They assist at dosage time, order refills, and watch for adverse reactions. This brings peace of mind to residents and their loved ones.
I hope this information is helpful to you and your family, Tina! Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan and Indiana
A family-owned business for four generations, Heritage Senior Communities has communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana. We invite you to call the location nearest you to learn more today!
My brother and I recently started looking for an assisted living community for our parents. Over the past few months, it’s become clear that remaining in their home is no longer an option.
Both parents have had falls inside and outside their house. Luckily, they haven’t been seriously injured. Their 60-year-old home just wasn’t built with senior safety in mind. They’ve also given up driving and don’t like depending on us for transportation.
A neighbor told me her dad was a veteran and qualified for some help through the Veteran’s Administration. Is this a program that residents in assisted living who are veterans can utilize? I’m not sure how to learn more about it.
Cynthia in Grand Blanc, MI
The Aid and Attendance Benefit for Veterans
I’m glad you asked this question! It gives us an opportunity to talk about the Aid and Attendance benefits for veterans and their surviving spouses. The benefit can make financing care much more affordable for qualifying seniors. We have many residents at Heritage Senior Communities who utilize this program.
The Aid and Attendance benefit provides financial support to veterans and their spouses or the surviving spouses of deceased veterans. Veterans 65 or older who served at least 90 days of active military service, of which at least one day was during an acknowledged period of war, may be eligible. This benefit also applies to veterans’ surviving spouses.
There are additional factors to know about this program:
- Your parents must have demonstrated need for assistance. The Veteran’s Administration will assess a variety of issues, including how well the seniors are able to perform daily activities and if one or both of them have a disability.
- The veteran must have been honorably discharged from service.
- The veteran doesn’t have to have been injured during their service to qualify for financial assistance.
- Applicants must already be receiving a VA pension or must be eligible to apply.
A veteran must have served least 90 days of active military service. At least one day of that service needs to have been during an acknowledged period of war. Here are the wars and conflicts that meet the period of war requirement set by the Veteran’s Administration:
- World War I (April 6, 1917–November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941–December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950–January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (November 1, 1955–May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise, August 5, 1964–May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990–a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)
Finally, the Veteran’s Administration will evaluate the family’s yearly income and net worth to determine if they qualify and how much financial assistance they will receive. This is based on income and asset guidelines that are adjusted each year by Congress.
I know this can be an overwhelming amount of information to process! If you don’t have a financial advisor familiar with this program, I encourage you to call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for more information!
My 92-year-old mom has been living alone in the home she’s been in for decades. Until recently, she’s been fine doing so with the help of an in-home caregiver. Lately, however, it seems like her quality of life is declining.
Because I live four hours away, I can’t visit every week, especially during winter. While her caregiver does a great job tending to her physical needs, my mom is isolated and lonely. During my holiday visit, I tried to talk to Mom about moving to a senior living community. It seems like that would give her an opportunity to participate in activities and make new friends.
Before I could begin the discussion, my mom got upset. Though I believe she doesn’t feel safe on her own, she seems afraid of moving to senior living. I dropped the subject and am looking for advice on how to identify what might be holding her back. Can you help?
Wendy in Holland, MI
Why a Senior Might Resist Moving
What a good observation. Sometimes adult children become frustrated with a parent who won’t consider moving because they don’t understand how tough the decision can be. And an aging parent might not be willing or able to identify just what is making them so resistant. By understanding some of the common fears older adults have about moving, you might be better able to help your mother make an informed decision.
Here are a few reasons seniors cite for not wanting to move to a senior living community:
- Giving up the family home: This generation of older adults often live in their homes for decades, just like your mother. She likely has many happy memories attached to her house. Selling it and moving anywhere may seem like she is leaving a piece of the family behind.
- Fear of change: Many people fear making a change at any stage in life. But for older adults, change often seems even more difficult. As you talk with your mom about moving, try to keep this in mind and move slowly.
- Believing the myths: There are a variety of myths and misperceptions about senior living communities. Many are based on the old, institutional style nursing homes that were so common when this generation of older adults was young. They don’t understand how vibrant today’s senior communities are.
- Perceived losses: Your mom may resist moving because she fears losing aspects of her home life. Loss of freedom, privacy, and independence rank high on the list of concerns for many seniors.
- Running out of money: Many people believe senior living communities are expensive and only for the rich. An older adult might worry that they will run out of money if they move. In reality, senior living communities can be an affordable solution as many of the older adult’s current home expenses are included in the base fee.
I hope this helps as you try to come up with a solution that will improve your mom’s quality of life. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.
Consider Heritage Senior Communities
With communities throughout Michigan and one in Indiana, you’ll find a variety of options from which to choose. Whether it’s the resort area of Traverse City or a community in southeast Michigan’s popular Saline, we extend an open invitation to you to tour a Heritage community today!