To sell or not to sell

By Posted on Feb 29 2020 | By

Emotions can swirl when seniors consider selling their home

The memories may be decades deep. A litany of holiday and family celebrations, neighborhood friendships, favorite nearby shops and restaurants and a deep connectedness that comes from the bond forged between couples and their home.

But time moves on and often owners are compelled to move with it. Yards that need regular attention, maintenance of living spaces larger than needed, and health issues making navigating stairs, rooms and basements a challenge; all can dictate a move.

For many couples, the decision is delayed as long as possible. Understandably so. The mere idea of tossing away years of accumulated stuff, packing endless boxes of possessions, and relocating to a smaller home or townhouse can force a decision to the backburner.

But there are alternatives.

A growing strategy for maintaining the status quo is aging in place. Some researchers believe that employing relatively modest changes can keep older homeowners nestled next to their hearth for years.

Advanced planning can start with an assessment of major home repairs that are looming. Is the roof over 20 years old? Are the heating and air-conditioning units pass their prime? Are some rooms ready for a new paint job?

The point is to invest in the home with the goal of not having to face large expenditures in the later years. This has the collateral benefit of emotionally reinforcing that the home will continue to be a safe and sound refuge.

Next, consider the balance of selling at the expense of seeking outside help with home maintenance and personal care. It can be difficult shelling out money for yard and landscape work when it’s a task that’s always been the purview of the homeowner.

But eliminating the worry of maintaining an attractive home can be worth the added expense of a seasonal contract for property maintenance.

Employing in-home caregivers and housekeepers may seem like a luxury but if the money is available, it may be worth spending. Commercial maid services cover the gamut of cleaning services ranging from dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and more.

While cleanliness is next to godliness it’s also next to happiness. Employing outside and inside home services strengthen the commitment to age in place.

One example of personal care is Visiting Angels, a private duty network of reasonably priced non-medical home care agencies providing in-home care, respite care, personal care, and companion care. An office of the unique business is located in Culpeper.

Betsy Walker, a northern Culpeper County resident, recently employed Visiting Angels to help her and her husband Fred during her recovery from hip surgery. “My caregiver has been my lifesaver. The moment she enters the house she gets busy working. She has adapted to my routine. It’s a wonderful local service. We are lucky to have such caring people to call upon,” says Walker.

The budget for such expenditures may come from previous expense items. Vacations, auto travel, and dining out tend to lessen as folks age. These monies can shift from the pleasures of the past to the pleasures accrued by having increasingly stronger in-home support systems.

Beyond any additional expenses, there may be opportunities to have family and friends pick up some of the slack. Is there a friend, son or daughter that might swing by occasionally to wash hair, give a permanent, clean gutters, etc.? One should not feel guilty calling on people who they’ve supported in the past.

Finally, online shopping for home-delivered groceries prepared meals and the ubiquitous Amazon one-click world are other strategies making life easier during the golden years.

When it’s time
When declining health increasingly takes a toll on daily living, a move may be inevitable. Work together as a couple to make sure there is agreement on what the next move will be. The goal is to make the shift on your terms and not be forced into a quick or ill-considered decision.

While choices may seem to be limited, there are options:

Moving to a small home, condo or apartment.
Choosing to live in a retirement community.
Selecting a continuing care retirement community.

The third option has the benefit of a move that can accommodate an eventual nursing home environment if the need arises.

Once a decision is made to move, prepping is important. Begin by making a room-by-room assessment of what needs to be moved, what can be sold and what can head to the dump.

There are services that are available to make the process easier. Home junk removers are plentiful and can make the odious task as easy as pointing and saying, “That goes, that goes, and that goes.” Boom. Done.

An effective way to brace for the ultimate day is to start pitching stuff today. Start small. Regularly look for opportunities to toss out what’s not needed. If you have not worn a garment in over year, there’s a good chance you will never don it again. Donate it.

Begin with cleaning out the garage, closets and the basement. These can be difficult areas of the house to tackle since often they contained years of accumulated detritus. Momentum builds when discarding; the more you do, the easier it gets.

Regularly donating clothing items to charitable organizations along with serviceable home furnishings creates a mindset that if it’s not being used, it needs to be moved out. It also makes the ultimate move easier since there are fewer things to deal with.

Life might be like a car transitioning through its gears. As one accelerates through the early years the shifts are fast and furious. But when a couple finally hits the interstate of retirement, they should consider dropping into easy-riding overdrive and ease off the pedal.

Enjoying the hard-earned expansive views is their ultimate reward.

Published in the January,23 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.