Q: My parents are getting older and they’re thinking their house is too big. Plus, stairs are becoming an issue. A retirement home is out of the question so that means buying a smaller, single level place. They’re really overwhelmed by the whole idea. Any tips to make this process easier?
A: More and more people are aging in place and there are loads of services out there that can help. But for starters, let’s look at three major topics: location, safety, and downsizing their possessions.
Location – Lots of seniors would prefer not to drive as much so consider a home close to the market, doctors, and the grandkids. Is there a small, easy to access shopping center nearby? A condo complex or over 55 community can also be a great way to find friends and activities.
Safety – Stairs are one of the biggest reasons seniors start thinking of moving. I’ve seen countless situations where the entire upstairs of a home is unused because it’s too hard (and too dangerous) to get up there! Choose a single level home with a wide open floor plan. Transitions from one room to another, and the outdoors, should be flat and smooth. Rooms that are used the most should be close together. Looking forward, can the home be easily modified to accommodate a wheelchair or other accessories?
Moving and Downsizing – Most people don’t like change and upheaval, especially as we get older. However, there are things you can do to greatly ease the pain for your parents. Senior Move Managers are fantastic resources. They handle every last detail from packing and unpacking to selling or donating unwanted items, and working with other family members. They pack everything carefully, move it and completely unpack all your possessions down to making the bed, hooking up electronics, hanging photos and making the home look as familiar as possible. This service takes a huge burden off the siblings as well.
I used a Senior Move Manager for my mom. When she moved in, there was music playing, flowers on the table and every single thing was unpacked and put away and neatly organized…even the refrigerator. If your parents are selling their home, the fees can come straight from the proceeds of the sale. In some cases, they may be covered or greatly reduced.
Don’t underestimate how overwhelming this is for your folks. Most people in their 70’s and 80’s haven’t moved as much as our generation…and they don’t like to! I’ve moved a dozen times since I turned 20 but my parents only had one home for the last 45 years.
One last thought: I can’t emphasize how important it is for you and your parents to work with people you trust…someone who is compassionate and understanding to what seniors are going through. If selling your home is the right thing to do, take the time to interview agents and choose the one you relate to the most.
Dave Dennis is a Realtor with the Tami Fuller Team at Ascent Real Estate. Having helped his parents and many clients with moving and downsizing; he is uniquely qualified to help people with this often difficult process. Reach him at 619-987-9484. Dave@DaveDennisRealEstate.com CA Lic. #01343870