Helping Older Adults Through the Moving Process

(Posted with permission from Mike DeLeon at Caring Transitions)

Here are a few tips from the experts to help you create a plan that can help you manage a move for an older adult.

  1. Don’t make seniors feel guilty. Avoid saying things like “Why did you hold on to this for so many years?” while sorting through belongings. Statements like this can cause stress and make seniors feel like a burden.
  2. Save photo albums for LAST. They can surface too many memories at once, which slows the process and triggers waves of emotions.
  3. Set a timer. Grab a kitchen timer or your phone and set it for one hour. Take a break once that hour is up.
  4. Color-code with Post-It Notes. Seniors have a tough time reading small writing. Color-code with post-it notes so PINK is pack, GREEN is sell, and BLUE is give away.
  5. Bring a door stopper. Doors get in the way, especially for older folks. Bring door stoppers to prop doors open to allow for easy room access for Grandma, and for large boxes and furniture.
  6. Consider online platforms for estate sales. Most seniors are not internet savvy, but their children/grandchildren usually are. There are many online estate platforms like CTBIDS.com, that sell everything online as buyers bid.  No in-person estate sales with strangers walking through the home and haggling over prices. The online estate sale platform handles it all, allowing the family to make money from hidden treasures around the home. 
    Best Sellers:  Electronics, jewelry, collectibles, and durable medical equipment.
    Items That May Not Sell Well: Large off-trend furniture, off-trend or well-worn clothes and kitchen utensils.
  7. Keep a schedule. Many seniors like a routine and stress if it’s altered. If the senior goes to bed at 10pm every night, don’t try to keep packing late at night.

Caring Transitions® takes steps to train and screen every employee and has developed estate sale standards that uphold the values of integrity and honesty for over 10 years. Since many of our clients are older adults, each of our offices are independently certified to support a “senior move” and help mitigate the effects of stress, health and common cognitive issues which are frequently challenges for late life relocations. In Atlanta, contact Caring Transitions’ Mike DeLeon – mdeleon@caringtransitions.com.

The Healthy Aging Conversation

How do you know if it’s time to have the conversation with your loved ones?

(Posted with permission of Caring Transitions of Northeast Atlanta)

As COVID restrictions begin to lift, more families have the chance to travel to see parents or aging loved ones. If you are visiting with family and notice changes in mom or dad’s health after time apart or only virtual visits, it may be time to have conversations about a healthy aging plan.

Often times family members hesitate to talk with their aging parents about common topics of concern such as changes to health, transportation, home care, legal and financial issues as well as retirement housing. These are important topics that can’t be ignored but may be uncomfortable to discuss. Despite any differences in age or understanding, on the most basic level, we all want to feel loved.

What changes may indicate additional support is needed?

  • Difficulty keeping up with finances. Observe stacks of unpaid bills or late notices.
  • Changes in personal hygiene or housekeeping that indicate parents are having trouble with personal grooming or housework.
  • Your parent repeats themselves often in the same conversation, seems confused, highly emotional or exhibits unusual paranoia. This could be caused by medications or other more serious cognitive issues.
  • Excessive shopping through TV or online outlets, or an unusual interest in online sweepstakes that require their personal information, phone numbers, addresses, social security or banking information.
  • Your parent is extremely isolated due to loss of a spouse or loss of personal mobility.
  • Numerous safety concerns in the home, such as heat, air conditioning, leaks, crumbling plaster, trip and fall hazards, steep stairways, loose carpeting and outdated electrical.
  • Health concerns: disorganized medications, spoiled food in the home, lack of healthy food items, infestations or mold.

Don’t feel discouraged if you notice any of these changes. It is much better to have these important conversations sooner rather than later. It is often too late to make informed decisions or be sensitive to everyone’s point of view once a personal or medical crisis occurs. Decisions that could have been made in advance end up being made in a rush; resulting in regret, remorse and unnecessary expense.

How can I communicate openly in a caring and loving way?

  • Be Attentive – Take the time to create a calm and quiet environment for conversation, especially important conversations. Making sure there is a reduction in distractions will help keep the conversation focused. Remember to pay close attention to what’s being said to ease tension, give comfort, and maintain trust.
  • Be Understanding – There are often feelings of confusion and loss that come along with discussing changes in care or moving to a new place. Being empathetic is the first step to truly being open to what is being communicated.
  • Be Aware of Body Language – Body Language communicates beyond words and surpasses the barrier of understanding. It is important to maintain eye contact, a relaxed posture, as well as smile genuinely and often. Emotions can often be “felt” through body language and nonverbal cues.
  • Be Patient – Remember to take the conversation one moment at a time. This can be done by keeping the discussion simple and willingly repeating information. Allow for time to process the conversation without rushing the moment. This can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Be Calm – Your conversation may be difficult or unwelcome and this could be a source of frustration for both you and your loved ones. Maintain a calming tone and body language to keep the conversation healthy. Be sure to listen and acknowledge emotions, like fear, anger, and anguish in a loving way.

Focus on the benefits of a creating a healthy aging plan.

Difficult or complex conversations are not always easy. Oftentimes people feel it’s easy to avoid difficult communications regarding health concerns because they may not want to face the fact their parents or loved ones are getting older. They may also feel that asking too many “prying” questions could jeopardize good relationships. On the other hand, they may also wish to avoid the additional responsibilities that are sure to surface as care issues are discovered.

Prioritize taking this time to enjoy each other’s company and have caring conversations. Taking the time to visit more often isn’t always possible during these difficult and uncertain times, so make the most of the moments you have in person. Your family will benefit from increased clarity and decreased conflict as they gain a sense of comfort knowing they are respecting their parents’ decisions and values. Frequent communication promotes honest conversation and can help you adjust to the many changes that take place as parents grow older.

Tough Transitions

(Published with permission from Caring Transitions of Northeast Atlanta)

Tough TransitionsThe holiday season is over and many people area are now left with a sobering realization that loved ones they hadn’t seen in more than a year need help. The warning signs that can be masked by distance like hygiene, trouble standing, and stacks of unpaid bills became obvious as families reunited with aging parents over the last few weeks.

Now adult children are left with difficult questions about what to do next. Should we move mom to a senior community? Does dad need a caregiver? Is it time to downsize to a smaller home?

#1 Is it time? The first step is to figure out if this is the right time to begin the transition to a smaller and more manageable home or assisted living. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Did you notice a change in hygiene? Did she appear to have clean hair? Did he suddenly start growing an unkempt beard? Was there a noticeable and uncharacteristic body odor?
  • Were there expired items in the refrigerator? This could mean your loved one isn’t eating enough and isn’t paying attention to basic health and safety.
  • Are there stacks of unpaid bills? Stacks of unpaid bills can cause financial problems for an aging parent and are a major sign he or she can no longer keep up.
  • Did your loved one struggle to get around the home? If you noticed trouble getting in or out of chairs, a slow shuffling pace or frequent stumbling, it’s time to consider a home that is more suited to a senior’s needs.
  • Did you witness a lack of interest in hobbies? Maybe your mother is an avid piano player and you noticed the piano covered in dust. Perhaps your father loves to read, but you didn’t see a book by his bedside. These are signs your loved one’s zest for life is slipping.

#2 Consider your options. The second step is to research different strategies with other family members to find a good fit.

  • It’s time to downsize. Your parent may not need help with daily living, but you have noticed they struggle to keep their large home clean and the grass mowed. This is a great opportunity to discuss moving to a smaller house or even a condo.
  • It’s time for in-home help. Your loved one could benefit from an in-home caregiver who can assist with light housework, bathing and daily living
  • A fulltime care facility is the best option. Your loved one is struggling with all aspects of life from home upkeep to bathing. It’s time to move him to a fulltime care facility.

#3 Plan a move. Moving is listed as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life and it becomes even more stressful if that person has lived in the home for decades.

  • Sort first. Pack later. The hardest part of the move is taking that first step. Help your loved one sort through what to keep, donate and throw away. Each can be labeled with a simple color-coded post-It note.
  • Set a manageable schedule. Don’t expect your aging parent to work on this move late into the evening hours. Try to keep as close to their normal routine as possible.
  • Limit the emotion. Save photo albums for late in the process. Trips down memory lane can cause increased angst and regret about the pending move.
  • Hire someone to help. Downsizing companies like Caring Transitions are specially trained to assist with these kinds of moves. Experts can help ease the stress, streamline the process and speed up the move.

If you’re looking for helping with a cleanout, downsizing, packing/unpacking or liquidating an estate, you can contact Caring Transitions’ Mike DeLeon at mdeleon@caringtransitions.com.

Daily Money Managers Help Seniors Remain Independent

If you are an older retiree and have been overwhelmed lately with managing your financial accounts, it might be time to consider hiring a Daily Money Manager (DMM). A DMM is a cost-effective way to help keep your financial life in order by hiring a professional to help you keep track of paying your bills on time, balancing your check book, handling insurance matters and providing tax documents to your accountant. Depending on where you live, costs can range between $75 to $150 an hour and some even charge a monthly retainer instead of an hourly fee.

Atlanta Seniors Real Estate caught up with Barbara Scurry, founder of Senior Partners. Barbara has been a DMM for 6 years and 10 years in geriatric health care/ marketing.

“I’ll share with you the story of Dorothy, a client of mine for almost four years. Dorothy was 79 years old when I started working with her. She never married, had no children, siblings, or other relatives with which she associated and she lived in an assisted-living facility (ALF).She was highly educated and detail-oriented but had stopped paying her bills and was showing early signs of cognitive decline. When I started working with Dorothy, I had great concern that she would run out of money within 12 to 18 months.”

Saving and finding money

Scurry said, “I began basic daily money management services, including opening and sorting her mail, making calls to outside vendors on her behalf, and organizing her files. But I got involved with her life issues as well and quickly realized she was not getting the care she needed (and was paying for) at the ALF where she was living. I helped her find a new ALF that saved her $2,500 per month in living expenses.”

Dorothy was also missing stock certificates that were about to be turned over to the state of Georgia, “one evening, as I was going through some old papers I finally found them! When we deposited those certificates, they ended up being worth more than $125,000! That money helped take care of her needs for the next three and a half years!”

Help with moving

Scurry even advised Dorothy on moving, a service perfectly aligned with the real estate transition services provided by Atlanta Seniors Real Estate Team.

“I referred her to a professional move management company and coordinated their services to get her packed, moved, and unpacked at her new location.”

If you need the services of a Daily Money Manager, a great place to learn more about this unique service and find a professional is with the American Association of Daily Money Managers.

If you or your senior parent(s) are ready to buy or sell real estate in Georgia, be sure to contact Atlanta Seniors Real Estate team of certified and personable Seniors Real Estate Specialists to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Resources

Senior Partners. Main page  AARP. Daily Money Manager Helps Control Finances
American Association of Daily Money Managers. Main page

Independence from Mortgage Payments!

Did you know you can purchase a home, even new construction, with a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage? It’s a reverse mortgage that doesn’t require you to make a monthly payment.

I’ve had many conversations about this very issue with numerous senior clients who are concerned with having a mortgage in their 80’s and 90’s. Especially now, when the cost of living just seems to keep on rising for them.

In this time, most people are realizing the power of cash – accessible cash that is.  As we age, it is important to have access to the money we have earned over the years in order to help us manage our chosen lifestyle and our health in the retirement years. A forward mortgage, such as a conventional home loan, a VA or FHA loan requires you to spend every month by paying back principle and interest, which puts pressure on your bank balance. Whereas a reverse mortgage allows you to keep your money in your pocket to use how you wish, with an option to pay or not to pay a monthly amount toward principle or interest.

Beware, not all reverse mortgages are equal. Be sure to speak to a professional who is willing to sit with you at your kitchen table (or their office) to explain the details. Online services are unlikely to do that, and may lead you into signing documents without explaining everything you need to know.

Consider this information as a tool you can use for your financial wealth.

3 Ways to Buy a Home

Presented in partnership with Genie McGee a Reverse Mortgage Planner with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation.

If you need to know how much equity you have in your home, contact me for a complimentary real estate market analysis.

 

Real Estate Instructor Having Fun!

Hilary Walker

A whole bunch of fun is what we have when I get together with fellow agents to teach the 3-hour Continuing Education class called “Here Comes the Boom” and the 2-day Designation class, “Seniors Real Estate Specialist”. Both feed my passion for educating. The classes are always great learning for the participants as well as me – since teaching is always a two way street,  in my opinion!

As a Real Estate Instructor, I can share information and examples from my own vast experience. However, the experiences shared by participants are most valuable to help us all learn what our clients need from us, how we can best service our clients, or pick up tips and strategies to support our real estate businesses.

I’m available to instruct real estate agents and to facilitate seminars for older adult groups open to hearing about the challenges and solutions of downsizing, resizing and relocating. Call (678) 609-8019 to discuss how we might work together.

Class Video Pictures

Class Testimonials

“Best most informative class yet!” J Tow 

“Hilary was awesome & also her guests – would recommend the class to anyone” T Prieto

“ Awesome class – Awesome instructor!” C Banks 

“ One of the BEST classes I’ve ever taken!! I would love to work with seniors!” L Peterson 

“ I felt like a sponge that couldn’t soak up all the great information that I learned. Amazing class and amazing instructor!”

“Hilary Walker and other speakers are passionate and very knowledgeable. The class was very well worth it because of this”

“Instructor very passionate & committed!”

“SRES very interesting to me now. Hilary was great – Very knowledgeable” B Clifton

“Well put together. Great Instructor” 

“Excellent Presenters, Excellent Materials, Extremely Useful” 

“There was a lot more information than I was expecting. Great class” 

“Outstanding class. I cannot begin to tell you what I got out of this class. You definitely have challenged me”. J Lester 

“Extremely wonderful presenter. Guest speakers were incredible too!”  

“Great Instruction, Great Info, Enjoyed the class”  

“Well informed and animated instructor – included real life examples to illustrate objectives. Well worth the investment of time & $$!” 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

American Seniors’ Home Equity Rise 3%

 

Graph formed by 100 dollar bill
Photo credit: 401kcalculator.org

 

 

Extra money can be used for updating home to age in place

Seniors and their adult children decide every day on aging dynamics and the feasibility of remaining in a long-term residence. While many seniors choose to downsize their living space, there’s a share of seniors that desire to remain in their homes or age in place.

Peter Bell, president and CEO of NRMLA and president of the National Aging in Place Council, positions using home equity as a way for seniors to update their homes to age in place.

“Instead of moving out, various modifications, such as stairless entryways and wider bathroom doorframes, can be made to accommodate new mobility and accessibility needs,” he said. “The housing wealth our seniors have built up in their homes over the years, their home equity, can be used to update the family house into a space for living comfortably and independently for years to come.”

A few stats about American homeowners aged 62 +

  • According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) and RiskSpan, this demographic had $6.3 trillion in total home equity at the end of the first quarter 2017, a 3.1% increase between fourth quarter 2016 and first quarter 2017
  • NRMLA and RiskSpan’s Reverse Mortgage Market Index, reached 227.07 in the last quarter, the highest since it was created in 2000.
  • Seniors’ home equity has been rising steadily for much of this decade, only falling in three quarters in 2010 and 2011 during the recovery from the housing crisis and recession.

If you or a loved-one has questions about aging in place versus looking for a residence better suited for them, there’s a whole team of Senior Real Estate Specialists for that!

 

Sources:

Reverse Mortgage Daily. Seniors’ Home Equity Rises 3% in Q1

PEMCO Realty. How Seniors (and Their Families) Benefit from a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)

3 Questions for Seniors Looking to Buy a New Home

Homes in the Autumn
 Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

 

 

When we think about purchasing a new home, we often think about young families looking to expand or people looking to move to a different part of their city (or even across the country). Once a person hits retirement age, we don’t think about them purchasing a new home.

Seniors have plenty of reasons to purchase a new home. There’s no rule that says you’re locked into the house you’re living in once you hit a certain age. If you’re a senior in the market for a new home, there are three basic questions you need to answer before you get started.

Why am I purchasing a new home?

The reason why you’re purchasing a new home should drive the type and location of the house you choose. Many seniors choose to move in their later years to downsize. Maybe you’re living in the house you’ve lived in for decades and it’s simply too much room for you now that the kids are gone. If so, you need to look for a low-maintenance home. Maybe you’re moving because of mobility reasons. If so, you need to make sure that the new home you buy is set up for prime accessibility. Maybe location is what matters most, as you’re moving to be closer to family. Figure out your prime motivation for moving and tailor your home search around it.

How am I going to finance it?

For some seniors, this usually is not a tricky subject. If you’re financially stable, you may choose to finance your new home in the same way you financed your last home – with a standard mortgage.

But for some seniors on fixed incomes, the question of paying for their new home is a little more complicated. It is worrisome to think about paying a large monthly mortgage payment on a fixed income, and worse yet, dipping too heavily into retirement savings.

One popular way to finance a new home if you’re over 62 is with a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a type of reverse mortgage. Here’s how the American Advisors Group describes it:

“With the HECM for Purchase reverse mortgage, the borrower provides a down payment using the sale of the previous home or other savings.  The equity earned through the down payment and the new home’s value is used to calculate the reverse mortgage loan amount.  During this process, borrowers may need to meet the loan-to-value ratio requirements with a significant down payment and provide verification of personal income and funds.  All or part of the reverse mortgage funds then cover the remaining cost of the home, just like with a traditional mortgage.

The benefit to financing with a reverse mortgage is that instead of paying the loan back every month over time like a traditional mortgage, reverse mortgage repayment is deferred to when the loan matures.”

This means no monthly mortgage payment – payment is due when the house is sold or the inhabitant dies. Keep in mind that you’re not building up equity in that second home, and there could be very little left in equity once the reverse mortgage is paid off.

When you’re thinking about financing, you should also consider what repairs or improvements will be needed in the home for it to be a safe and comfortable place for you to live as you get older. For example, what will the cost be if the bathroom needs a remodeling for it to be more accessible for you or your spouse? Or are there outdated appliances in the home that will need to be replaced soon? It’s important that you’re clear on all the home’s needs before making a buying decision as repair costs can add up quickly.

Remember, you do not have to make these tough financial decisions on your own. It’s best that you talk to a financial advisor to come up with a budget for your new home and to figure out the best way for you to finance your new home.

How am I going to handle the move?

Moving is tough on anyone – regardless of age – but it can be especially taxing on seniors. You need to plan. Don’t be afraid to de-clutter. Hold yard sales and distribute meaningful items to friends and family. Slowly pack boxes as to avoid injury and strain. For most seniors, it may be best to hire professional movers if you don’t have family members that can help you move.

See How Seniors (and Their Families) Benefit from a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)

 

 

Guest writer: Jim Vogel, at Elderaction

 

If your senior parent or other loved-one needs to downsize or find a residence better suited for them, a SRES®-designated REALTOR is best trained to handle your loved-one’s real estate needs. PEMCO Realty has a team of Senior Real Estate Specialists ready to assist you or your parents to make this a smooth process.