Assessing Housing for Older Homeowners

By Rachel Hemmingson

Here we are in dark, short, rainy days.

Like every other year, we’ve put away lawn furniture and said goodbye to our gardens, but this year is not every other year.

What about the holidays? What about making those lists and checking them twice? The impact of the pandemic on how we celebrate will vary greatly, but for many, it will mean not gathering in person.

The holidays have been a time when we come together with loved ones who live away from us. Maybe they only see us yearly.

What sometimes happens is these visitors see us with fresh eyes and may note increased frailties which we, and our always-around folks, may not really see.

Family members gather and concerned kids encourage exploration of a housing change. While they are visiting, possible senior housing communities may be checked out.

Older homeowners may agree that, after the holiday season, they’ll begin the process of getting moved. This occurrence is so common that it drives move-in cycles at senior housing communities and in some measure, the real estate sales season too.

The communities see an influx of new residents. Realtors work with families to get the homes fixed up, prettied up and on the market for early spring. This yearly cycle is a constant in the housing market.

Again , this year is not every other year. For many, the idea of moving into a senior housing community is off the table. They don’t feel safe, and don’t want to risk feeling shut in, away from their familiar home and neighborhood.

At the same time, the risk involved with normal age-related changes has been heightened by the imposed isolation this pandemic has caused.

Since you may not be gathering with family as usual, you may need to be responsible for assessing yourself in relation to the possibility of needing changes. This means taking time to consider how you’re doing now in relation to last year.

Think about your balance, strength, eyesight and hearing; your capacity to stay motivated to prepare good food for yourself and keep your surroundings cleaned up and pleasing; your ability and interest in driving.

Beyond your own assessment, you may want to talk to your doctor about this or explore hiring someone with a Certified Aging in Place designation to walk through your house with you, applying an objective eye to your home.

If you’re interested in exploring a senior housing community, do careful research. Often they get painted with the same, broad brush as the skilled nursing units in which there have been COVID-19 outbreaks, but the fact is that most have had virtually no illness or problems.

You may have other concerns which could be answered, rather than just assumed, by researching communities you have an interest in.

Senior housing communities are only one of many options to consider.

Maybe you can partner with your adult kids to use funds from the sale of your house to build a completely age-friendly house adjacent to theirs, called an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).

Perhaps they can move to your property and part of the house is modified for you there. Maybe you and a friend or two all sell your homes and purchase an age-friendly home, then use the savings from all that overhead to pay for supportive services to come to you.

They may all seem logistically overwhelming but remember that there are many excellent professionals whose services address all the needs inherent in these kinds of changes.

Assessing Housing for Older Homeowners

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