Older homeowners find options varied

#557 in a series of true experiences in real estate
July 2008, Hills Newspapers

We have a new client who is 102 years old. He moved into his house in 1954, over 50 years ago, and he would be living there still but he broke his hip not long ago and can’t do the stairs anymore. So now the question is where he will live out his life, something that has not yet been answered. He will need the proceeds of the house sale, and unfortunately, no matter where he goes, it will be expensive.

Anet’s mother is in her eighties, living in her own home in Atlanta. It looks as though she should be in a more supportive environment with people and activities around her. Anet and her sister have been looking for an assisted living facility nearby. Mom does not want to go anywhere, and who can blame her; everyone seems to want to stay in their own place, the known and comfy home they are used to.

A friend in her seventies is thinking about where she might live next. She’s been in her Oakland house for many years. She loves her garden and enjoys her neighborhood but she retired from her job a few years ago and doesn’t have enough income to live on, plus the cost and effort required to keep her house in shape is a burden for her. Her plan is to apply for a reverse mortgage and stay put for a few years, but she’s looking around for other places to go.

We’ve had older clients sell the family home and move to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek where they bought into a cooperative apartment, and other clients who bought into assisted living apartments in Oakland. Both of these cost quite a lot up front, plus monthly costs are typically $1,500 to $5,000, depending on what is included.

One of the places Anet and here sister are looking at for their mom does not require a buy-in, but costs over $6,000 a month, which they’ve found, is not unusual where an apartment is provided and two meals a day, plus someone who gives Mom her pills morning and evening.

Some years ago we had clients, a husband and wife in their early eighties, who decided to move out of their meticulously cared for home while they were still in good health and still driving to a number of activities they enjoyed. They visited places in the Oakland area and chose one. They applied for entrance, had the required physical exams, were interviewed by staff, put down a deposit, and waited on a list for an apartment to become available. When one did, they sold their house.

A few days before moving, their daughter came to visit and for the first time, went through their accounts. She said they’d be fine if they lived no longer than 10 years but otherwise, except for social security, they’d be broke. They were horrified; they just could not bear the thought of being without any resources. They cancelled their contract with the facility and moved to a rental apartment.

We and our friends talk about aging and resources all the time. Some of us have parents who need assistance. Some of our clients are looking for solutions. We are going to need assistance ourselves. How long can any of us stay in our own homes, climb stairs, keep the plumbing and roof going? If we sell, will we have enough money? Where would we go?

The man who is 102 would like to go home from the convalescent hospital. He says he’d like to sit in his recliner in his den and turn on the TV. Of course he would. That’s probably what all of us would enjoy doing – being at home. Sadly, it is not to be, and because he made no choice about where he would go, his family will be making it for him.

Probably most of us will wait too long. After a certain point, it becomes impractical to stay at home. When we can’t take care of ourselves anymore, can’t move around well or we can’t think straight anymore, we might hire live-in help and that could work for a time. But where do we go then?

I would like to think that I’ll figure all of this out for myself before someone has to do it for me. But I like my house, my garden, my own bed. Besides, who’s to say, or to know, ahead of time how our life will turn out? For some people, it works out that they stay at home until the last. If they’re really lucky, they remain hale and hearty too. I ‘m thinking that I might just play the odds.

This entry was posted in Seller Information. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: