Aging in Place….Can Realtors Help?

This is an ongoing series of posts on assisting seniors and their families during transition. Read Ann’s other posts here.

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The concept of Aging in Place is becoming increasingly popular with boomers and seniors as they plan for the golden years. According to the CDC, the definition is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age, income or ability level.” There are 40.3 million Americans age 65+. Currently, 87 percent of this demographic want to stay in their current home and community as they age. For the age group 50-64, 71 percent have expressed the desire to age in place. What does this mean for the real estate community and how can we help our clients to achieve their goals?

There are many factors that have to be considered when planning for living at home in later years. Issues like modification of the current residence with handicap access, kitchen and bathroom adjustments, stairs and access issues, community transportation options and of course, security concerns. The economics of remaining in the home base should be reviewed with an estate attorney or accountant.

Many times, I have been asked by elders or their adult children to give them a price opinion on the property. This often occurs when either the husband or wife is ill or for estate purposes after a death has occurred. When I do this real estate market appraisal, it gives me an opportunity to bond with the family and also to make recommendations or referrals of professionals who can help with home modification, health and financial issues. I also caution that decisions about selling the house or moving should not be made in haste. Unless it is necessary to relocate immediately, taking time to realistically explore all options will benefit the decision-making process in the long run.

Aging in Place is Really Aging in the Right Place

Recently, we worked with a newly widowed octogenarian, who had cared for a declining spouse in the family home. Understanding the reality of living alone in a large house, she was evaluating many choices including home modification and sensor monitors. After careful exploration of all of her options, she decided with the support of her children to embrace a modified concept of aging in place. This meant staying in the same town but down-sizing to a more manageable private residence.

Through our home search, she was able to find a condominium just a short distance from her previous home. We then consulted with a modification specialist to make the ‘new home’ safe and comfortable. The timing on the purchase and sale of the existing residence allowed her to have all the necessary modifications made prior to moving in. When the family helped her decorate her new condo with familiar furniture and artwork, she was relieved and felt like she was at home!

Not every transition goes this smoothly. Working patiently with your clients to achieve their goals is very rewarding. Yes, it is still embracing the concept of aging in place but with the added caveat that the place may not be the original one but it can certainly be made to be an acceptable alternative.

Dr. Ann Meyerson is an agent at William Raveis in Westport, Conn. and specializes in helping seniors and their families during real estate transitions. She has been featured as an industry expert on Channel 12 News and has hosted the Real Estate Forum on Channel 88. Ann shares her professional time between Connecticut and Florida where she is actively involved in Senior Transitions and is affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. You can learn more from Dr. Ann Meyerson on  Facebook,  TwitterLinkedInYouTubeFourSquare and her blog.

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