Do you know the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?

You’ve probably had it happen with a loved one – they’ve forgotten something that is obvious, or their forgetfulness is completely uncharacteristic. You immediately think, “is it the beginning of Alzheimer’s?”

More often than not, it’s simply a natural part of aging. It’s important to know and understand the difference — and be able to recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s as early as possible to ensure safety and hopefully slow the progression.

Recently, Atria Senior Living published a great article explaining the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as the signs to look for.

(Published by Atria) Dementia is not a disease, but a broad term that refers to various conditions of more serious cognitive impairment. It is caused by damage to brain cells which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings. There are many types of dementia including Lewy body dementia, mixed dementia, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia and more.  Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia – accounting for 60–80% of dementia cases.

What we know about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent health concerns among adults ages 65 and older and is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is a degenerative disease resulting from brain cell damage where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time.

Scientists are working hard to identify what causes this damage. They do know that, as this damage spreads, the brain cells lose their ability to function and then die. This causes irreversible changes in the brain that leads to memory failure, personality changes and problems carrying out daily activities. A person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years on average after diagnosis, but depending on other factors, can live as long as 20 years.

>>Click here to read more including the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

What you need to know about long term care.

It’s not something we like to think about, but most Americans will face a time when they need assistance to care for themselves.  Whether you’re thinking of yourself or a loved one, we all must be well versed in long term care and other elder care programs in order to be prepared. 

AARP’s CEO Jo Ann Jenkins has written an article calling attention to what she refers to as a deeply flawed long term care system.  She explains what long term care is and what is at risk today. Take a few minutes and learn more about the system you may one day depend on.

>>Long Term Care: The Crisis Everyone Must Face

How to help your parents downsize.

Helping your parents downsize is an emotional process for you and for them. With some compassion, tact, preparation, and possibly some outside help, it can be a smooth experience for everyone involved.

Caring Transitions of Northeast Atlanta offers some wonderful tips to help you begin and go through the downsizing process with older loved ones.

Before helping your parents, prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Sometimes the emotional aspect of downsizing goes overlooked as you focus on the more practical aspects. Checking in with yourself and setting your perspective goes a long way in creating a more positive experience.

Recognize that this won’t be easy. Even with a plan, downsizing can bring up some tough emotions. Expect the process to be a little messy and stressful and be compassionate towards your parents and yourself.

Be patient. Downsizing can be especially difficult if your parents are leaving the family home, or if an upsetting circumstance triggered the downsize. On top of that, it often takes longer than expected, depending on how many possessions must be decluttered. Put yourself in your parents’ shoes as best you can. A little patience goes a long way.

Don’t try to take over. Unless there is an issue of impaired cognitive function, know that your parents are ultimately the decision makers. Trying to force them into anything will only be counterproductive. If your parents are losing cognitive functioning, still be respectful and involve them as much as you reasonably can, so they feel they still have some control.

>>Click here to read the remainder of this important article on how to help your parents and loved ones downsize with many more tips to help you.

Is it time to sell your home? Or should you wait a little longer?

In a new CNBC report, analysts are trying to make sense of what’s happening with the housing market. They say things are changing and the root cause is simple — affordability.

“The housing market isn’t going to crash; a plateau is more likely”. 

Atlanta area SRES realtor Hilary Walker’s take on the report: “I agree with this statement and the report’s discussion completely. I think some buyers might want to consider purchasing now before the rates get any higher and then plan to refinance when rates drop. I also agree with the presenter’s statement about Adjusted Rate Mortgages – they are making a comeback without the scary subprime conditions that were part of the problem back in 2006/7. Just like the Reverse Mortgage/Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, the ARM is not for everyone but when you understand the product and how you can use it to your advantage it becomes quite attractive – more so now when conventional rates are going over 5% and the ARM rate remains around 4%.”

>>See the full report:

Baby Boomers on the Move

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the fastest growing market in real estate is made up of clients age 50+. Baby-boomers and seniors are on the move selling long-held properties and opting for homes that are easier to age in. Perhaps it’s a single level; maybe it has a smaller yard; and is certainly more convenient to services they need or family members who can help them.

In a 2022 Atlanta Seniors Real Estate survey:

  •  67% of respondents indicated they are planning a move
  • 40% of those saying they are looking for a ranch style home or one with an owner’s suite on the main level

While those results aren’t surprising, the challenges of a later-in-life move, especially in today’s real estate environment, often catch seniors and their families by surprise. That’s why it is beneficial to find an agent who has earned the NAR’s Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation giving them unparalleled training and experience including:

  • Helping manage the financial and emotional challenges of selling a long-held family home
  • Creating a customized plan to market and sell a property
  • Understanding a senior’s unique needs and creating a customized plan to ensure the new home meets those needs now and in the future
  • Utilizing specialized knowledge in reverse mortgages, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs for the real estate transaction
  • Connecting senior buyers and sellers with a vast network of movers, attorneys, home inspectors, and other experts to help through the process

In the survey, respondents were asked whether they would use an SRES agent for a real estate transaction. While 60% said they previously were aware of what an SRES brings to the table, a clear 100% indicated they would prefer to use an agent with the SRES designation.

Atlanta Seniors Real Estate client Patti put it beautifully, “It takes a special person to be able to understand the challenges seniors face when confronting the prospect of moving at their late stage in life.  Managing them with respect and dignity and assuring their interests are being met is a delicate balance. We would highly recommend Hilary Walker to anyone looking to sell their home and, more specifically, to seniors faced with the daunting task of embarking on these changes late in life.”

Contact Atlanta Seniors Real Estate to learn more about how an SRES designee can help you buy or sell a home.

Voting in Georgia’s 2022 Primaries

Georgia’s primary elections are coming up, but you can go ahead and vote.  Georgia’s May 24th primaries will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, State Senate and House, governor, lieutenant governor and other state executive offices, as well as several state high courts.

AARP has all of the information you need to prepare for voting. Click below for their Voting Guide including links to getting your absentee ballot or what you need to know about early voting.

>>Read more in their 2022 Voting Guide.




What will rising interest rates mean for senior home sellers and buyers?

What my clients are saying

My mature and experienced clients know that rates have been much higher than they are today (just 20 years ago they may have purchased a house with a 7% rate). So, today’s rate at just over 5% is still a good rate in their minds, although we’ve been spoiled with those extremely low 3% rates in recent years.

These clients are savvy and experienced to know also that increasing rates can be a detraction for buyers who want to buy now or very soon. So, now the baby boomers and older homeowners in my circle are calling to ask the very serious question…”How quickly do you think my home will sell if we put it on the market now and where do I go if I sell now?

Here are two scenarios that I’ve seen first-hand.

First Scenario

A first-time home buyer (over 65) approved for a loan in late March prefers purchasing rather than renting because rent has increased by a significant amount for the last 3-years. We have been on the lookout for a home but have not yet found anything suitable.

Reasons for a delayed purchase in this case are:

  • wanting a home with all spaces on one level
  • low inventory in the area of choice with only one or two potential homes coming on the market each week
  • multiple offers on those few homes or they are in disrepair
  • and the buyer is searching with a lower-than-average price point (average house values for our local area rose from $278k to $338k)

    The first week of May, the lender informed us that the interest rates went up over a quarter percent since the buyer was approved in March so there will be an increase in mortgage payments. This makes the buyer nervous because they are on a fixed income. An interest rate hike above 5.5% may force this buyer out of the homeownership market so time is of the essence.

    Second Scenario

    Most of my clients are already retired, on a fixed income, or have a budget they are adamant to stick to, so overspending for another home is hard to do. I say “overspending” because that is the word of choice among some of my clients who have watched the market take an unprecedented boom of house prices and, while that is fantastic for the seller, it is a hard pill to swallow for the mature buyer.

However, those who need to move are acknowledging this is the market they are in and must move forward regardless. I have a few clients who are in the situation of needing to sell the large home where they raised their families or enjoyed their mid-life empty nest, replacing the space with their hobby or 2nd career or entertaining friends and family periodically. But the time has arrived that the house is simply too large. They are heating and cooling, and cleaning spaces they rarely use so they want to downsize or resize while they can get a good price for their home.

One of my clients wants to move out of their 5,000 square foot home while identifying a comparable smaller home at a mid-range price point – reasonable, at least so we thought.

The search was difficult for these reasons:

  • in the madness of the real estate frenzy of 2021/22 even homes in the higher price points were not presented as well as they should have been – a stark difference between photos online and in person
  • almost every decent home that came on the market received multiple offers within a day or two
  • their competition was no longer just another occupant buyer but now it was large fund investors vying for that property, too

In the case of these kinds of buyers, interest rates don’t bother them too much since, in most cases, they plan to use the equity they have in their current home to purchase the next home or they only plan to keep the mortgage for a few years before they pay it off and live mortgage free. In a couple of cases, they are choosing to use a Reverse Mortgage to help stretch their wealth, therefore, the interest rate is not an issue since they can choose not to make any mortgage payments on a monthly basis.

If you want to know more about how interest rates may affect your decision or that of a loved one to move forward with a sale or purchase, feel free to contact me.

>>Read more about interest rates from the National Association of Realtors.

Making Long-Term Care Insurance More Affordable

The Long-Term Care Affordability Act, introduced in the House of Representatives, would reform the tax code to make long-term care insurance more affordable and accessible and help older adults better prepare for long-term care costs.

  • It would let people withdraw funds from their 401(k), 403(b), and individual retirement accounts to pay for long-term care insurance.
  • Up to $2,500 of a withdrawal used to pay for long-term care insurance would be excluded from income tax annually.
  • Withdrawals also wouldn’t be subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty tax.

>>Click here to read more.

Gardening can offer older adults surprising benefits

It’s not just your imagination. Gardening is good for your health. Science tells us “interacting with plants can increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anger, sadness and stress.”

This article, published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution March 2022, explains the science behind the good feelings you get while gardening.

As the weather continues to warm up, many of us will find ourselves back outside pruning, planting and playing in green spaces. This is good news for our bodies and minds, as gardening offers some big benefits for both physical and mental health.

Gardening can help combat depression, anxiety and loneliness

We likely know from our own experiences that bright blooms and warm sun can be a powerful antidote to a less-than-stellar mood. Getting outside and playing with the dirt, mindfully tending to a plant and watching it grow from seed, gives us both a sense of peace and accomplishment that can keep anxiety and depression at bay.

But science backs this up too.

A study from Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service found that interacting with plants can increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anger, sadness and stress. It also helps keep people in touch with their communities and creates socializing opportunities. All of these factors are critical for maintaining positive emotional health.

Working in a garden keeps the brain sharp

One study found that daily gardening may reduce the risk of dementia by up to 36%. A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health also found that planting a vegetable garden can improve brain nerve growth factors related to memory, and can improve functioning in the hippocampus, which is critical for memory, and cortical regions of the brain.

Gardening also helps combat stress and low mood and increases feelings of joy and happiness, all of which contribute to a healthier, happier, more resilient brain.

>>Click here to read the rest of this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.