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Moving in the Right Direction Book Preview

An excerpt

If you’re reading this book, you are probably a senior (or know a senior) who is faced with making an important decision: whether or not to sell your home and, if you do, what kind of housing you would move into.

If you’re like most people, the idea of selling your house may seem overwhelming. You’ve probably lived in your home for many years, and it’s filled with mementos and memories. Leaving a place that is so familiar, so comfortable, so much a part of your life may fill you with dread. Because of this, many people put off making arrangements to move from the family home, even though it no longer fits their needs and, for some, has become a burden to maintain.

In my career as a real estate professional, I have met many seniors who face this dilemma. They are usually responsible people who have invested time and money planning for their golden years, ensuring they will be comfortable and secure. However, these same people who have been so diligent in their retirement planning often leave the decision about moving out of their home to chance. They wait until they suffer an unexpected hardship that forces them to move, such as an illness or a financial setback. Unfortunately, relying upon “crisis management” to decide when to sell one’s home is not only bad planning, it often leaves a person with few desirable options.

Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of seniors, helping them decide when to sell their home and guiding them to those professionals who can help them choose new housing that suits their present and future needs. This book will take you through the same process, showing you how to act proactively when making decisions about the housing you want.

As you read through the book, you may find that some of the advice will apply right now, and some will not be relevant to you for some time. That’s fine. This book is meant to help you take a good look at your current situation and start thinking about how you can sustain a positive outlook and create a happy, healthy environment in the years to come. Use the book as a guide or informational resource to get you going in the right direction.

Bruce Nemovitz
Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)

Chapter One
When Is the Right Time To Move?

At their church social, two women, Eleanor and Lois, sat together, enjoying coffee and dessert. Both were widows in their seventies. Lois had recently moved into senior housing; Eleanor still lived in her home of forty years.

As they chatted, Lois brought up the topic of her new home.

“Would you like to come over and see my new apartment?” she asked Eleanor. “How about Saturday? We could have lunch in the dining room and then play some bridge afterwards.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t come on Saturday,” Eleanor shook her head. “That’s the day I do yard work. I can’t let that go or it will just get out of hand.”

“Well, what about Tuesday?” Lois suggested. “We have a guest lecturer come in the first Tuesday of every month. The last one talked about local day trips available to older people. It was really interesting.”

Again, Eleanor shook her head. “I’ve got a handyman coming sometime on Tuesday to fix a few things. I need to be there for him, and I never know exactly when he’ll show up.”

Lois tried one more time.

“Well, Friday nights are movie nights. You could come and have dinner and stay to watch the movie.”

Eleanor sighed. “I can’t drive at night anymore, and my kids are too busy to take me places in the evening.”

Lois looked at her friend with sympathy.

“It sounds like you’re kind of stuck in your house. Have you ever thought about selling it and moving into senior housing?”

“No,” Eleanor replied emphatically. “That might be fine for some people, but I can’t leave my home. I’ve lived there too long to change now. Besides, I’m not ready to give up my independence.”

Eleanor is not alone in how she feels about moving. Many seniors feel they just don’t want to make any changes in their lives. But there comes a time for most seniors when staying in their current home is no longer a safe or wise choice. The reasons can vary. Perhaps the stairs have become difficult to negotiate. Maybe general upkeep of the house is too much to handle. A senior may experience declining health that requires more assistance and less responsibility. Or it could just be that rattling around in a house that’s too big makes the person feel lonely.

Rationally, older residents may understand the reasons they should move into new, more suitable housing. Emotionally, however, many people cannot bring themselves to make the move. Because of this, many seniors continue to live in homes that do not meet their physical and/or social needs.

Fears, Hopes, and Questions About Housing Options

As a realtor in the Metro Milwaukee area for over twenty-eight years, as well as a Senior Real Estate Specialist and Certified Senior Advisor — that is, someone who specializes in helping senior citizens make appropriate housing decisions — I have been in the homes of hundreds of seniors, listening to their stories and watching their faces. In too many cases, those faces have mirrored fear and frustration as they talked about the obstacles they have had to overcome. In our conversations, I tried to get to the root causes of their fears, hopes, and desires. I wanted to know why so many seniors stayed in their homes when it was obvious a move should be made.

The greatest mistake made by professionals working with older adults — and I was guilty of this when I first started out — is projecting our perceptions upon our clients. Because we’re the professionals, we assume we know what would work best for our clients. However, I came to realize that before I could use my expertise to help my clients, I needed to fully understand them — how they thought, what they felt, and perhaps most of all, what they feared.

I decided to survey my senior clients who were still in their homes but considering moving to senior housing. Most of these seniors had attended one of my “moving” seminars that provide information on affordability of senior housing, downsizing, the process of selling one’s home, and moving. Most of these seniors were between ages seventy-two and eighty-three years old.

I distributed seven hundred surveys. The questions were open-ended, meaning participants were not given a choice of answers, but asked to respond in their own words. This was not a scientific study, just simply a way to gather valuable information from seniors faced with the decision to sell their home.

The following are the compiled results, including respondents’ comments:

Continued in book…

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Specific, usable, and thorough information for Seniors to take them through the transition process step by step in the least intimidating way possible.

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Real life examples to help you better understand what your parents are going through and how to best assist them. This is particularly helpful for those of you who wrestle with the notion that you aren’t doing enough to help your parents.

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