Sunflower FieldSenior Housing Options

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I want to help you sell your home!

Selling a senior's most valued and valuable asset, their home, and the subsequent move, can be far more challenging than most other real estate transactions.

For younger homebuyers who are moving up from their starter home to the home where they expect to spend many enjoyable years any nostalgia they feel about their existing home is more than offset by the excitement of the future experiences that await them.

But for seniors who are transitioning from the home where they have spent many memorable years it can be a very traumatic experience.

As a senior myself, I understand the emotions involved and consider it an honor to help you deal with the issues in a supportive and caring manner.

For some there are serious and real concerns regarding how they will manage their alternatives financially. Many seniors are 'house rich, and cash poor', and have concerns about the cost of assisted living options, moving costs, tax consequences, expectations of family members regarding the impact the sale will have on expected inheritance, and more.

As a certified Senior Real Estate Specialist, I have access to a network of professionals, including other REALTORSĀ®, prepared to assist in managing the unique challenges encountered throughout the process.

I can be a more objective advisor to help you work through your fears and, even the grief you may feel as you contemplate leaving so many memories behind.

One thing you can count on -- I will never push you to act more quickly than you are comfortable with!

In my years as a REALTORĀ®, and now as a Senior Real Estate Specialist, I have assisted many clients who were faced with the difficult decision regarding whether to move or stay. The circumstances are all a bit different but the dilemma is the same. "If you want to stay in your home for as long as possible, you need to plan and prepare. You should aspire to more than living in the same house. You should want to stay there safely and independently. You should stay there only if you can maintain a desirable quality of life at a reasonable cost." (Bob Carlson, Editor of Retirement Watch)

"I Want You to Sell My Parents' Home"

The man on the phone asked if I would be interested in listing a home in an adjoinng Missouri County. When he gave me the address I recognized that it was only a few blocks from another of my current listings and I assured him I would be glad to help.

As I began to ask a few questions about the house, he told me it was actually his parents home and he was concerned about their safety due to the rising crime rate in the area. I asked if they were interested in moving and his response caused me to doubt that they were fully onboard.

I agreed to give them a call to schedule a time to visit the home. They were very cordial but their response reinforced my earlier suspicions. I met with them and toured the home with them. It had been their home for 40 years and although it was a bit dated, it was in great condition and they felt very secure and had no desire to move. They felt their son was more concerned about the declining home prices in the neighborhood than about their safety.

I told them I had no interest in encouraging them to sell the home they loved if they had no compelling need or desire to move elsewhere. If their circumstances change in the future, they will feel comfortable knowing that I have their best interest as my only priority.

This exchange is typical of the intergenerational communication problems that arise out of the confusion of reasonable concerns for the health and safety of the parents and the needs of seniors to remain in control of the major decisions that affect them. The best source of insight into issues like this is the work of David Solie.

What to Do with all of your stuff

Even if your home meets the safety design standards and you have arranged for in-home care, there is one issue that cannot or should not be postponed until it is too late for you to handle it properly. That is arranging for disposition of all the 'stuff' that you have accumulated.

I can reach out from my desk and touch books that I acquired as long ago as the 1940s! They have meaning and memories that I cherish and I am reluctant to let go of them even though I rarely open them and refresh my memory of why I still hang on to them. They are a part of the fabric of my life and they remind me of where I came from, how I got here, and why I am who I am.

I have donated hundreds of books to libraries and schools and friends but I am determined not to leave the decision about what to do with my remaining books and memorabilia and copies of the sermons and speeches I have delivered over the years to someone else. I need to do this while I am still able to do it myself.

Marni Jameson has written what many considerDownsizing  to be one of the best books on downsizing available. The book was inspired by her experience with the dismantling and sale of her childhood home when her parents transitioned to assisted living.

I highly recommend Downsizing the Family Home.


Where are you from? Where do you live? Where is Your Home?

Whether your answer to all three questions is the same or you have three different answers, it is almost a certainty that at some point as life circumstances -- family, career, income, and health -- change, we will face the question about where we will live in the future.

Louisburg, Kansas has been our home for nearly 24 years and we have lived in our present home for more than twice as long as I have lived in any other house in my 84 years. Over the past few years we have had frequent discussions as to whether it makes sense for the two of us to continue living in a 4,000+ square foot home on three levels (lots of stairs) with the high maintenance, insurance, taxes and mortgage expenses involved.

Like the majority of our peers in similar circumstances we would love to simply Age in Place. Yet we know from an objective standpoint that is a short term answer, at best. At some point, probably sooner rather than later, we know we may not be able to continue living in our present home. Like most homes, including the majority of new homes built today, it was not designed with seniors in mind. The cost of modifications to make it senior friendly may be prohibitive.

According to The MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0, "basic design and structural modifications to a one-story home cost an average of $9,000 to $12,000". (If the alternative is a move to an assisted living residence, Genworth Financial estimates the average cost at $43,000 per year.)

A partial list of issues on the National Association of Home Builders "Aging-in-Place Checkilist" include:

You can download the full HomeFit Guide at the AARP website. The Center for Universal Design, College of Design, North Carolina State University has developed a set of Seven Universal Design Principles that you might find very useful.The full Aging-in-Place Checklist is available at

"While we focus on innovations to help make communities more livable and offer new solutions to help people age in place in their homes and neighborhoods, we also have to consider what happens when staying in one's home is no longer an option.

It used to be that the only options for an older person who could no longer live at home was to move in with family or into a nursing home, but today many more creative choices exist  and more are being created all the time." (Disrupt Aging, p. 124)

The stark reality is that none of us are going to live forever and unless death comes quickly and unannounced, we will most likely reach a point where we will need help with basic daily needs. Rather than wait for the day to arrive when we suddenly realize we can no longer manage without assistance, we are wise to arrange a time when we and our adult children and other relevant family members have a discussion about what we will do when that time arrives. Otherwise, we are delegating these decisions to others to make under the pressure of an immediate crisis.

In our own situation, we came to the realization that even if we found the perfect alternative and a buyer made us an offer we couldn't refuse on our present home, we had not done the requisite planning to make a move a smooth and relatively painless process.

It would not simply be a matter of deciding on what furniture and furnishings to keep and what to do with the rest. We have a lifetime of 'stuff' to sort out  and make the hard decisions that we have managed to avoid until now. The plain truth was we needed more time (sometimes referrred to as 'kicking the can down the road'). So, we will use the next few years to prepare for an orderly downsizing at some point in the not too distant future.

A care plan should identify what types of assistance are (or may be) needed, how those needs will be met and by whom. Some of the issues that should be covered in the plan:

Considering your Options

Many older adults are aging in place because they are unaware of alternatives they can afford. It is definitely a viable option for many seniors but should not be the result of a failure to plan for the future. This can lead to a more difficult and less satisfactory outcome when the tipping point of serious risks to health and safety or when unanticipated changes in financial circumstances demand an immediate change.


Downsizing is an alternative form of independent living that deserves consideration. It offers the choice of moving to a smaller, more senior-friendly home as long as health circumstances allow.

In 2018, 13% of all homebuyers over age 50 purchased a home in senior-related housing. Among homebuyers aged 64 to 72, the percentage was 16% and for buyers in the 73 to 90+ age group, the percentage jumped to 29%. In all age groups over 50, the percent of buyers who purchased detached single-family homes ranged from 61% to 81%. The next highest category ranged from 9% to 14% who purchased duplex/apartment/condo  units in 2 to 4 unit buildings.

Among all age categories, slightly less than 50% purchased homes in the suburbs or a subdivision. The remainder was spread over small town, resort/recreation area, urban/central city, and rural area. Small towns were favored by younger seniors whereas urban/central city areas were favored by seniors 54 and older.

A frequent refrain I hear from seniors is they want to remain in touch with their long-time friends and thus prefer to continue living in their own home in the same general area they have lived in but they no longer want to spend the time, energy, and money to maintain the home they now occupy.

They don't want to spend their time on lawn maintenance in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter. They don't want the cost of heating and cooling rooms they no longer need. They don't want to pay high property taxes and insurance on a home that was perfect when their children were at home but has now become a drain on their resources.  Many of them describe themselves as 'house rich and cash poor'.

An option that is being discussed a lot is a Reverse Mortgage. Having spent a lot of time investigating this option, I know it is not the solution for everyone. I also know that it is the right option for many but even in those instances when a Reverse Mortgage is the right choice, it should only be considered in consultation with an advisor who has experience in this area and can help you avoid the pitfalls that can turn a good deal into a bad deal.

For some, the solution is a maintenance-free condo where they can spend their leisure time enjoying grandchildren, relaxing with friends, volunteering for causes they believe in, pursuing a hobby or taking classes, or turning a hobby into a business.

The decision to downsize or not and the type and location will vary widely. But whatever the decision, it should be preceded by thoughtful and informed consideration of the alternatives. Downsizing also provides the incentive (or necessity) of decluttering while physically able to be more than a passive observer of the process.

Sooner or later, most seniors will reach the point when independent living may no longer be practical or even possible. Not so long ago senior housing alternatives were severely limited.  Today the range of options is rapidly expanding.

At one end of the spectrum, there are communities that offer little or no care; at the other, facilities that provide continuous care. Between those extremes are a wide range of housing choices that can meet changing needs.

Creative new options, such as intentional senior retirement homes and communities and co-housing environments, are available, as well as more traditional senior housing choices, including:

"Ultimately, where you live and how much support you choose will depend on your physical and mental conditions, personal preferences, interests, financial resources, family and your willingness to adapt to change." (Mayo, p. 334)

As more options have become available, nursing home (or skilled nursing facility) use is declining. Their role is often temporary while a patient recovers from a severe injury or are the necessary location for people who need full care for a condition that may not improve. More than half of the residents of nursing homes are suffering from dementia, primarily Alzheimer's disease.