Finance Information for Senior Living

from Sharp


A major component of financial planning is factoring in costs toward quality assisted living care. People are living longer than they have at almost any other time in history, which means the need for care will continue to rise. The economy is down and health care costs are up. It’s never too early to incorporate assisted living financial planning into an overall financial strategy. Just as many people start a college fund for their child well in advance, so should people start saving and researching how to pay for assisted living care.

What’s the First Step of Financial Planning for Assisted Living?

The first step is to have an understanding about the different kinds of care available in order to choose the right type of care the loved one will need. Assisted living care is typically non-medical and more associated with assisting seniors with day to day activities such as house work, yard maintenance, transportation, and social activities. There are medical services available but not on a routine basis. Assisted living residents are generally in good health and can take care of most things, but want the security and peace of mind that there are people there to assist them. Many seniors also do not want to have the burden of doing daily chores so they can focus on enjoying their golden years. For people who need more intrusive medical care there are skilled nursing facilities, often referred to as nursing homes.

Assisted living fees vary by state and region. Pricing structures also vary and can be based upon an all-inclusive model or a fee-for-service model where people pay only for the services rendered. In 2009 the average cost of assisted living was $3,100. For people who need Alzheimer’s or dementia care the costs were approximately $1,300-$1,500 more per month. The costs vary greatly from state to state with the lowest costs being in the South where the average was $2,300. The Northeast had the highest average costs coming in at $5,000 per month. To help mitigate costs some people elect to live in an assisted living community outside of the state where they reside.

Is There Financial Assistance for Assisted Living Costs?

It depends on the state where you live and your financial situation. It’s best to look at financial assistance from a three-pronged approach. The first includes researching state and federal programs that offer help. The second approach is to look at your own financial picture and to see what tactics can be done to reduce costs and increase cash flow. The third approach is to liquefy assets to free up large sums of cash to help pay for costs.

Several states have programs such as the Florida OSS for Seniors program or the SSI State Supplement Programs. Federal aid includes Medicaid and Medicare. There are also cost of living reductions such as medical expense tax deductions and credits and elderly care and disabled tax reductions and credits. Despite all these deductions it is important to know that the majority of costs will be out-of-pocket.

How Can I Pay For Assisted Living Care?

Again, the majority of assisted living expenses will be paid for by the private party. For most people this involves tapping into several resource pools such as retirement and pension funds, social security, home equity, insurance coverage, and savings. One of the main ways people pay is tapping into their home equity by selling their home or completing a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.

Many people wrongly assume Medicare will pay for their assisted living costs. It will pay for medically related expenses such as procedures, but will not cover monthly dues or other living costs. Medicaid, as it currently stands, will help people pay for assisted living costs through state waivers. Not all states have waiver programs so it is best to contact the Medicaid office in the state where you live to get the most current information. More and more states are adding a waiver program as it is more cost effective for them to pay for assisted living programs than skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes).

How Can I Develop An Assisted Living Financial Plan?

Financial planning for assisted living is complicated because you do not know what type of health your loved one may be in at the time when care will be needed. In those instances it is best to plan out several scenarios based upon different health care needs. Developing a long term plan will help ensure that your loved one will receive great care and your financial situation will remain stable when the costs begin to be incurred.

There are several individuals and agencies that can help you develop a plan. Since assisted living financial planning involves all areas of your finances it is best to see a certified licensed financial planner or accountant who has the expertise to give sound advice and strategies. It can be dangerous to solicit and follow advice from family and friends who do not have the knowledge of financial planning or assisted living. That doesn’t mean their advice is not sound, but getting a second opinion is critical. The best type of free advice from family and friends is from those who are currently in the situation of paying for assisted living care. They can provide very concrete advice based upon their experience.

Financial planners can look at your overall financial health and see what is best to for your particular situation and then formulate a plan. The sooner you can plan ahead the less impact the costs will have on your finances.

There are also financial planners who specialize in eldercare. Eldercare planners have worked with clients in similar situations and are often times more knowledgeable about resources and strategies concerning assisted living financial planning.

Public benefits counselors can be a good resource as they provide advice free of charge and are usually quite knowledgeable of resources that can assist you at the federal, state, and municipal levels. One downside is they have limited knowledge of overall financial planning strategies, laws, and instruments.

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Assisted Living Checklist

by Nicole on September 19, 2013
on Shart Seniors – A Trusted Senior Living Resource

Moving into an assisted living community is just one of many important decisions that need to be made regarding senior care. The next challenge is choosing the right facility for you or your loved one.

A personalized checklist will help you to make an informed decision, as well as an equal evaluation of every facility that you visit. Remember to make note of the facility name, address, phone number, main point of contact, website and email.

Below are some items you will want to include in your assisted living facility checklist

Initial ‘Over the Phone’ Questions

All of these questions can be taken care of over the phone. This will save the cost and time spent taking a trip and can eliminate a facility before you visit a community.

  • How many residents live at the facility?
  • Are the rooms private?
  • Do the rooms/units have kitchens?
  • Are different size units available?
  • Are there special units for special needs patients?
  • Are additional services available if the resident’s needs change over time?
  • Can residents use their own health care providers/pharmacists?
  • How do they bill residents?
  • Under what condition would a resident leave?

Questions to Ask During Your Visit

The next sets of questions are those that can be answered while visiting the facility. You’ll also want to note whether this is the first visit to the facility, what day it is, and what time you visited. These details can provide important information when making a decision. The questions to ask or take note of should consist of questions similar to the following:

  • What was your initial reaction to the facility?
  • Is the facility clean and organized?
  • Are the staff and patients cheerful?
  • Are the stairs and walkways well lit?
  • Are the exits marked appropriately?
  • Do the rooms and bathrooms have hand rails?
  • Are there safety locks on the windows?
  • Is there a backup power generator?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Are the rooms or units large enough?
  • Are there plenty of common areas for residents to use such as:
    • Game room
    • Library
    • Chapel
    • Computer area
    • TV area
    • Living room
    • Cafeteria
    • Special services such as a bank, café, beauty salon?

    Questions to Reflect On After Your Visit

    Contract and Expenses

    The preceding questions will help you note what your visit was like. After visiting more than one location all of the details can begin to blend together and it is very east to get facilities mixed up. The next portion of the checklist should note details of the contract and expenses. Sample questions include:

    • Is the contract easy to follow?
    • Does the contract contain a lot of fine print?
    • Do you understand all of the provisions of the contract?
    • What are the entrance fees?
    • What is the monthly rental charge?
    • How much is the security deposit?
    • Is the deposit refundable?
    • What utilities are included?
      • Heat
      • Electricity
      • Phone
      • Internet
    • Are there rate increases and how are they announced?
    • What if a payment is late?
    • What specific services are provided?
    • How often are services rendered?
    • What meals are served?
    • Are meals served seven days a week?
    • What times are the meals served?
    • Who determines the level of care patients receive?
    • What level of care is provided at the facility?


    Next you’ll want to ask about the specific amenities. Amenities are an important factor in determining whether or not you or your loved one will enjoy their stay. Questions to ask include:

    • Can residents bring their own furniture?
    • Is laundry provided?
    • Can residents come and go as they choose?
    • Can residents have a pet?
    • Is transportation provided?
    • When are visitors allowed?
    • Does the facility have a worship service?
    • Is transportation to places of worship provided?
    • Are residents charged parking?
    • Are visitors charged parking?
    • Do residents have storage space?

    Lastly, ask friends neighbors, and relatives who have experience with some of the facilities you’re visiting. Word of mouth travels fast and chances are if a facility has an overwhelmingly good or bad reputation, it is likely true. Also check internet chat rooms and forums to get information from real people. By following these steps you are much more likely to make a sound decision and avoid choosing the wrong assisted living facility.

    A checklist allows you to perform a much more detailed and accurate assessment for you or your loved one to make a decision. It’s also good to note the human element when visiting. Take note of your gut reaction to the facility, residents, and staff. The staff will most likely put their best foot forward so be extra aware of the feeling you get when walking in as well as during your tour.

Posted on October 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Is Assisted Living Right for Your Aging Loved Ones?

Posted in Selling by Regina Madiera-Gorden 



Making a decision about whether assisted living is right for your loved ones is one of the hardest decisions we face today. Over the years I have worked with many adult children and their parents as they prepare to make the decision about when the parents should sell their family home.

I have learned that fully assessing the situation and communicating openly with your parents is the best way to begin. I advise my clients to go through the following questions as they weigh this difficult decision.




Is Your Parent Ready for Assisted Living?

Ask Yourself These Questions

  • Is your parent telling you that he is eating, but you're seeing food go bad in the refrigerator?
  • Is your parent falling? To determine the answer, is your parent covering up bruises he or she doesn't want you to see?
  • Is your parent wearing the same clothes when you go to visit? Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately and launder clothes?
  • When you look around the house or yard, is it as neat and clean as it used to be?
  • Is your aging parent remembering to take medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time? Are medications expired?
  • Are they able to operate appliances safely? Do they remember to turn appliances off when they finish cooking?
  • Is the home equipped with safety features such as grab bars and emergency response systems?
  • Do they have a plan in place to contact help in case of an emergency?
  • Are they driving? Should they be driving? Do they have alternate means of transportation?
  • Are there stacks of papers and unpaid bills lying around?
  • Do they have friends, or are they isolated from others most of the time?
  • When you really look at your parent, do you see the bright and vibrant person from years ago, or do you see a more limited person who needs some help one hour a day, or even around the clock?

If you answered yes to even a couple of these questions, your parent may be ready for an assisted living facility.

I know from my personal and professional experience that many children and grandchildren dread this conversation with their aging loved ones. But it’s so important to sit down and talk with them before a crisis hits, when decisions can be discussed and all options considered.

As you probably know, the process of selling a cherished family home and deciding where to live late in life can often span a few years. I have been called upon to help with this complex moving process many times over the years and I now have a deep appreciation and understanding of the emotional needs of senior adults and their families during the process, as well. When the time comes for you to begin working through this process with your parents, contact an agent who specializes in the unique needs of seniors.

For more information and to contact a Windermere Senior Transitions Specialist, please visit:



Posted on September 4, 2013 at 11:44 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Electronics Recycling Event

Getting your home ready to sell? Have some new electronics and need to throw out the old? We are teaming up with 1 Green Planet to offer FREE recycling to our friends and customers. Saturday, September 7th from 10 am to 2 pm. Windermere Real Estate/M2, LLC parking lot 9502 19th Ave Se, Everett. 

We'll be serving coffee, muffins and snacks and will gladly accept non-perishable food items or cash donations for our annual local Realtor Food Drive.

Hope to see you there!


Posted on August 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in Homeowner News, News For Seniors |

Is It Time to Sell Your House?

August 13, 2013

For many reasons, a lot of baby boomers have been delaying retirement. One reason is that we have been unable to sell our homes. We've been trapped in our old houses, in our old, high-tax communities, handcuffed to our jobs by a lofty cost of living. We couldn't afford to retire until we could move to cheaper digs.

But now the real estate market is improving. According to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index, the number of existing homes sold is up more than 8 percent from a year ago, and average prices have climbed 12 percent since this time last year.

In some markets, such as Dallas and Denver, prices have regained all of what they lost during the Great Recession. Even in Detroit, prices are up by a third from the bottom (although still well below their peak in 2005).

Now the question is: If you can finally sell your home and move to the retirement destination of your dreams – whether across town or across country – should you rent your new place, or should you buy again?

Let's remember that despite the lousy real estate market of the recent past, most boomers have made a lot of money owning their own homes over the past 30 years. For most of our lives – and our parents' lives before us – owning a home was the American dream. A house centered you in a stable community, provided a school for your kids, and in the long run, was a good financial decision as well. The mortgage and taxes were subsidized by the tax code, and the value of your house increased — some years more than others, but except for a few brief recessionary periods, always on an upward trajectory.

The rule of thumb was that it was better to own than to rent, as long as you planned to stay in your house for at least five years.

But that was then. What about now? What we've all learned since 2006 is that owning a home can be an albatross as well as an opportunity. Many people now seem more interested in mobility than stability. You can't retire and you can't take that new job if you can't sell your house. And maybe you just no longer want the responsibility of taking care of a lawn and doing maintenance on the roof and the plumbing and the heating system.

Many of us know – and are a little jealous of – a friend or relative who was renting an apartment or a condo and was able to take a new job or jump on an early retirement package, then wave goodbye and start the new life they wanted.

Now that we homeowners have the chance to move, do we really want to be saddled with another place we may not be able to sell? Especially in a volatile market like Florida or Nevada or Arizona?

Certainly, if you're experimenting with your retirement, shopping for a new place to live, you should not buy a place right away. Remember, buying and selling a house costs a lot of money – not just the down payment, but the mortgage, the lawyer, the insurance and taxes.

If you're not sure, rent for a year or two. But eventually, you'll probably begin to feel like you're "throwing away" all that rent money, contributing to the wealth of your landlord rather than building your own equity. The people in your complex are transient, and while you might not have to worry about maintenance, you might find your landlord often does a "quick fix" instead of doing the job right. Plus, maybe you want to put your own stamp on a place – fix up the kitchen the way you want it, rather than the way the landlord has it.

Also, be careful: You might find that you need to buy a place quick, before prices run up again and leave you behind, unable to afford what you'd like.

Above all, the choice of whether to rent or buy is a lifestyle decision. What kind of home and neighborhood you want to live in, whether you want to feel like a part of the community and how long you are you going to stay there. In other words, the new rule of thumb is the same as the old rule of thumb. Rent if you're going to be moving on. Buy if you want to settle down and stick around for at least five years.

Tom Sightings is a former publishing executive who was eased into early retirement in his mid-50s. He lives in the New York area and blogs at Sightings at 60, where he covers health, finance, retirement and other concerns of baby boomers who realize that somehow they have grown up.


Posted on August 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Windermere Launches Customized Program Focused On Supporting Growing Senior Population

Posted August 9 2013, 10:00 AM PDT by Shelley Rossi 

Two years ago, the oldest members of the Baby Boomer generation turned 65, and over the next 18 years, 79 million more will do the same. These seniors are projected to move out of an estimated 11.3 million housing units through 2020 creating what is known in the real estate industry as the “silver tsunami”. These generational trends have inspired the creation of Windermere Senior Transitions; a new program made up of Windermere agents who are specially trained to understand the unique needs of clients aged 65 and older.

The Windermere Senior Transitions program focuses exclusively on helping seniors through the transition of downsizing from their existing residence into a smaller home, condominium, or an assisted living facility or retirement community. This process can be very complicated and emotional for many seniors and requires the support of someone who is trained to navigate this transition. These home owners often have needs that extend far beyond a traditional real estate transaction and may require assistance with finding resources for everything from healthcare and legal services to financial planning, estate sales, and downsizing services.

Mary Benz, Director of Sales and Marketing at Chateau Retirement Communities in Seattle believes that the agents who are a part of Windermere’s Senior Transitions program “Provide a critical need for seniors facing the overwhelming task of downsizing and making a move that marks a milestone for them. These dedicated agents have received additional certification to work with the senior population and have reached out to form relationships with various agencies involved in all aspects of downsizing and moving.”

There are several criteria agents must meet in order to become a certified Windermere Senior Transitions Specialist, including completion of an internal training course entitled “Intro to Senior Transitions”. They must also earn the national Senior Real Estate Specialist designation (SRES) which certifies that agents have demonstrated the necessary knowledge and expertise to counsel seniors through major financial and lifestyle transitions in relocating, refinancing, or selling the family home. In addition to this, agents must close a minimum of three “senior” transactions on an annual basis, as well as sign the Windermere Senior Transitions “Standards of Practice” contract which requires agents to abide by a strict code of ethics specific to senior-aged clientele.

For more information, please visit the Windermere Senior Transitions website:


Posted on August 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Real Estate Retirement Plan

Getting ready to retire? Prepare your property and investments to make a smooth transition to your sunset years

By Alexandra Gallucci
CTW Features

If you feel unprepared for retirement, chances are you’re not alone.

According to a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than one third of workers lack confidence in their financial preparations for retirement.

For many people, real estate is their biggest asset, and planning ahead in property matters can help eliminate your worries – and your debt – before you sail away from the workforce.

We talked with certified financial planners across the country for tips on managing real estate for retirement years.

Investment Property

“With good tenants, a low [tax] basis in the property and a satisfactory location, a property owner can do well to keep the property,” says David Diesslin, chairman and CEO of Diesslin and Associates Inc. in Forth Worth, Texas.

But maintaining properties as you age can be difficult and is a real concern for owners. Deferred maintenance can lower your return on investment, as can failure to raise rent prices, says Lauren Klein, a certified financial planner in Newport Beach, Calif.

To avoid this, Klein says rents should be raised every single year.

Property Taxes

“If a client is struggling to financially pay their taxes, chances are they have too big of a home,” says Rob O’Dell of Wheaton Wealth Partners, Wheaton, Ill. In this case, downsizing your home may be advisable.

Also, homeowners in Florida may now qualify for a homestead exemption by making a home their permanent residence. Owners can deduct up to $50,000 from their property taxes under this new rule.

In California, Proposition 13 limits property tax increases each year. Homeowners over the age of 55 may transfer – once in a lifetime – the old property tax basis to a new home of equal or lesser value.

In addition, there are exemptions for veterans, those with disabilities and people over 65 in many states that can help to reduce housing taxes.

Educating yourself on your state’s tax laws will allow you to capitalize on all your qualified exemptions. Look to your local tax office for help in learning your state’s requirements to get correct valuations and exemptions, Diesslin says.

Paying Your Mortgage

When it comes to financing your home, cash flow should be the goal, Klein says. For many people, that means not paying off the entire mortgage.

Don Grant, senior investment management specialist at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management says 85 percent of his clients in Wichita, Kan., prefer to be mortgage-free because they fail to see the bottom line: They may be better off financially if they don’t pay off the loan.

Klein often recommends that clients downsize their residence if paying off their home is a major concern.

Homeowners can benefit from refinancing at historically low rates instead of using assets to pay off their home. Plus, this often frees up cash flow that can be applied to other areas, such as retirement savings, O’Dell says.

Getting a Head Start

It’s tougher to finance property once you’ve retired, Grant says. If loan rates have improved, consider refinancing your house before you retire. Someone who is still in the workforce will show income that has the potential to increase, which will encourage lenders to give you the loan you need, Grant says.

Experts agree that it’s best to begin planning your real estate management before you buy. “With income real estate, rentals, et cetera, a disposition and debt plan should be established well before the closing on the property,” Grant says. “Go into the purchase with a good idea of what conditions need to be met to sell the property.”

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Mortgage giants make it easier for retirees to secure loans


By     May 24, 2013 01:55 PM EDT    The Washington Post    Published: May 23 

Here’s a heads-up for the growing ranks of seniors whose post-retirement monthly incomes aren’t sufficient to qualify for a mortgage under today’s tough underwriting standards: Thanks to a rule change by the largest players in the home loan business, you may be able to use imputed income from your 401(k), IRA and other retirement assets to qualify for the loan you want.

That, in turn, might open the door to a money-saving refinancing to a lower-rate loan or a downsizing purchase of a new house or condo.


Top credit officials at Freddie Mac, the giant federally controlled mortgage investment company, said last week that a “little known” policy revision now allows seniors and others to use certain retirement account balances to supplement their incomes for underwriting purposes — without actually tapping those balances or drawing down cash.

Freddie’s revised rule is aimed at the tidal waves of baby boomers heading into retirement status — 8,000 a day for the next 18 years, according to one industry estimate.

Many of these seniors have seen their monthly incomes, heavily dependent on Social Security and limited pension plan payouts, plummet following retirement. Yet on paper, they look relatively comfortable financially. They’ve got growing IRA and 401(k) retirement account balances, swelled by recent stock market gains. They often have solid equity in their homes, good credit scores and at least modest savings.

But if these same people apply for a refinancing or a new mortgage to buy a home, suddenly they’re told they don’t look so great. They often can’t qualify under the “debt-to-income” standards required for today’s post-recession underwriting. Those rules sometimes set the bar for total household debt-to-income too low for retirees who are still making payments on auto loans, credit cards, home equity lines of credit and other debts.

Freddie Mac’s plan — Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage investor. has a similar option for seniors — offers them a little extra boost on qualifying income if their financial assets permit.

Take this hypothetical example provided by Freddie Mac credit officials: Say you’d like a new, low-interest-rate mortgage but your debt-to-income ratio doesn’t make the grade. You do have $800,000 sitting in a retirement account that you haven’t touched yet and that could be accessed by you with no IRS penalty.

The good news: Under the federal mortgage investors’ policy change on qualifying income standards, your monthly income could actually be higher for underwriting purposes than it appears to be at first glance.

Under Freddie’s guidelines, the loan officer could use your $800,000 in untapped retirement assets as follows: First, the lender essentially discounts the $800,000 to take into account possible market swings that could reduce what you actually have available. Freddie Mac requires them to multiply your retirement fund assets by 70 percent to arrive at a conservative number. This brings your retirement funds — for underwriting purposes, of course — down to $560,000 ($800,000 times 70 percent).

Next, the underwriter divides the discounted fund balance by 360 to arrive at what is in effect 30 years’ worth of monthly drawdowns from the fund — in this case, $1,556 ($560,000/360 equals $1,556). The lender then can add the $1,556 to your current Social Security, pension and other verified qualifying income for the purpose of computing your debt ratio.

You may never have to draw down even a dollar from your retirement funds to pay the mortgage, but the fact that you have easily accessible financial assets available to do so allows the change to the underwriting equation.

The computations can get a little complex, and there are some technical rules and definitions that lenders are required to follow.

For example, if you are already pulling down dollars from a retirement account, procedures are a little different.

Another example: Retirement-related financial assets can include lump-sum distributions you’ve received or even the proceeds of the sale of a business. Loan officers and underwriters unfamiliar with the program can consult Freddie’s (or Fannie’s) online technical guidance for more detail.

But the bottom line is this: If a debt-ratio problem is preventing you from getting a new, low-interest-rate mortgage and you’ve got substantial untapped retirement funds that might help qualify you on income, don’t settle for a rejection. You may have more income — at least for underwriting purposes — than you thought.

Ken Harney’s e-mail address is


Posted on May 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

Moving Mom and Dad

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Margit Novack 

Sometimes it starts with a phone call at 2 AM. “Your mom had a stroke.” Sometimes there is simply a gradual worsening of chronic conditions, and over time the home that worked so well for so many years is too burdensome. In either case, your life is turned upside down. There are hundreds of decisions to be made: where will your parents move, what will go with them, what will happen to everything else? Your parents are overwhelmed, and so are you.


If you’re a typical Boomer, you take pride in multitasking, getting things done, crossing things off your list. The problem is, your parents may have a different agenda. Faced with the multitude of losses that accompany old age, they may cling fiercely to independence and the need to be in control. They may also be focused on reviewing their life and creating legacy. These different agendas can create conflict and impede progress. Listed below are our top 10 tips for Helping Mom and Dad Move. The tips are designed to maximize your parents’ sense of control and respect their need to reminisce, because honoring your parents includes honoring their agenda, as well.

Tip #1: Let your parents’ emotional and physical comfort guide the process.

Your parents’ priorities and perspective may differ from yours. Seemingly insignificant items may be loaded with personal meaning and memories, and objects of great material value may be less important. They may prefer old, worn objects to newer ones in better condition. Honor their decisions.

Your parents may have a sequence in which they need to proceed that differs from your own. If books are very special to your parents, for example, they may need to determine what will happen to the volumes not going with them before they are willing to focus on other issues. Attempting to force your parents to proceed in a sequence that doesn’t address their priorities usually results in arguments and inattention

Tip #2: Try to replicate the old environment.

Your parents will be experiencing a lot of change. It will be comforting to have some things stay the same. Take photos of each shelf in the china closet, the arrangement of pictures on the wall, and of items on bureaus and end tables. The photos will help you recreate the feel of the former home with speed and accuracy and will make the new residence look and feel more like home.

Tip #3: Focus on sorting, not packing.

Preparing for a senior move is a major organizational challenge. There may be decades of belongings to sort through in attics, basements, spare rooms and closets. In addition to what is going to your parents’ new home, there may be things going to family members throughout the country, as well as the church bazaar, Purple Heart, an auction house, and the township dump. It is here, more than anywhere else, that your help is needed. Helping your parents sort and organize their belongings is the single most important thing you can do to reduce stress, save money, and ensure a smooth move.


Tip #4: Accept their gifts.

Your parents may want to give you items they cannot use, including things you don’t want. Take them anyway. Store them in your basement if you must, but accept them graciously. Your parents will be parting with a great deal. Knowing that cherished objects, and even ordinary things, are with family members makes it easier to part with things and reduces the feeling of loss. If your parents are warehousing things that belong to you or your siblings, take them now.


Tip #5: Be tactful.

Poor health, caregiving duties and failing eyesight can result in housekeeping practices that are less stringent than they once were. Tactfully clean things as you sort, but avoid making your parents feel embarrassed. If you find clothing that is torn or stained, suggest a donation site that recycles textiles or take worn towels to the S.P.C.A. Knowing that things will be used, regardless of their condition, makes parting with them easier.

Tip #6: Let your parents say good-bye.

Keep sorting sessions brief— 2-3 hours at the most. This may be difficult when you come to town for a weekend to blitz through things, but constant decision-making is exhausting and marathon sorting sessions usually result in diminishing returns. The sorting process brings up memories, so stories and reminiscing are natural. Accept that some days you will accomplish less than you had hoped for and let your parents enjoy their recollections. Storytelling is more than simply saying “goodbye.” Studies show that reminiscing calms people and reduces stress. You may find that after telling a story, your parents are able to focus more on decision-making. In short, storytelling is a productivity tool, not a hindrance. Listen respectfully, ask questions. Remember that in the long run, it is your parents’ stories, not their belongings, that you will cherish.

Tip #7: Be realistic about how much time you can devote to the process.

If your parents live in the family home, allow 60-80 hours for the downsizing process, 20 hours for items not going with them, and 50-80 hours for helping them pack, move, unpack and get settled. If your time is limited, spend your time with them doing “fun” things and providing emotional support, and hire professional help for the rest. Senior Move Managers specialize in this type of support.

Tip #8: Concentrate on the big picture.

Senior moves are stressful for the entire family. In addition to their own homes, families and jobs, adult children are often assuming caregiving responsibilities. Conflicts sometimes develop between siblings over the disposition of items, and more frequently, over the sharing of caregiving duties. As you work with your parents and siblings, keep three objectives equally in mind: caring for your parents, taking care of yourself, and keeping the family in tact.


Tip #9: Hire a Senior Move Manager.

Downsizing and moving are challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. A Senior Move Manger like Moving Solutions can provide expert planning, proven resources, and hands-on help to take the work and worry out of moving. You control how much you spend, and most provide a free, no-obligation home visit. Moving Solutions provides services throughout Southeastern PA, the Lehigh Valley, Delaware, and central New Jersey. For help elsewhere in the US and Canada, go to the National Association of Senior Move Managers. Hiring a Senior Move Manager isn’t an expense, it’s an investment in your health, your relationships and your peace of mind.

Tip #10: Looking Back

“Things” were important to my grandmother. Perhaps it was living through the depression. Perhaps it was burying both her children. Perhaps she was holding on to what she could in the face of so much loss. When she moved, at age 88, she offered me many things. I said “no” to everything. I had good reasons. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it. I didn’t have room.

Today, I regret those decisions. It’s not that I’ve grown to like the things she offered. It’s that I was thinking of myself, and I should have been thinking about her.


Posted on May 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |

4 Common Worries About Senior Living



Senior living | Sharp SeniorsThe stress of caring for an aging parent is one of the most difficult things to go through. Many adult children admirably choose to take on this responsibility single-handedly. However, as the years go by, it often becomes apparent that a trained elder care professional is a better option. It’s not just the burden that wears us down or the interruption in our own personal lifestyle that makes caring for our parents difficult. The fact is that sometimes we are just not enough to take care of our parents.

But it’s not easy turning over a loved one to someone else’s care. It’s your parent and you want them to have the best possible care so that they can live out these golden years as healthily and happily as possible. However, when making the decision to move a parent over to a senior living center, the options can be overwhelming.

1. What kind of housing should I choose?

Independent living is for people who can still get around on their own, but need a little help here and there. Typically, an independent living situation will see someone keeping an eye on the residents, without controlling their every move. Seniors will have a personal consultant that will make sure they are eating well and taking medication on a regular basis. Residents can set their own schedule and are free to come and go, but there are active people her age around and planned social activities.

Independent living normally offer assisted living options for when residents might need extra care down the line; that way they won’t have to move and leave familiar surroundings. For an independent living situation, the idea is to have complete freedom in their schedule but not having to deal with the little things like laundry, cleaning, meal preparation, etc. At the assisted living stage, you might see more interaction on the part of the caretaker and less freedom for the resident. However, each situation is different and individual health care needs are monitored by the establishment so that the resident is taken care of properly.

Nursing care is a little more in depth and at this stage, there is more hands-on medical attention on a daily basis. If your parent needs someone to help them move around, go to the bathroom, do rehabilitative exercises, this is what you’re probably going to need.

Further Reading: Finding the Best Care for Your Parents

2. How will my parents adapt to their new environment?

This is a huge issue and one that worries most adult children when considering senior living options. No one wants to see their parents in some sterile, drab chamber with only a large community room and one big TV as the source of entertainment while others mill about looking lost or wait in line to play the only board game in the joint.

Thankfully, for many assisted living centers, those days are pretty much passed; elder care is a booming business and the comfort of seniors is well respected. Living conditions are more like personal apartments or condos than just a room in a large building. Personal space is respected and can be personalized with furniture and comforting keepsakes from home. The meals are taken care of and are usually prepared by an experienced nutritionist that works on a one-on-one basis with many residents and their families to ensure a proper diet.

Having varied activities is also quite common and really help new residents adapt to their new surroundings. Daily walks or outings, movies and city tours and many other options are offered. Many times, family members are also invited to tag along.

Further Reading: How to Convince Mom and Dad to Move into Senior Living

3. How do I know if it’s the right time?

Once you start thinking about the possibility of senior living for your parents, it could be years until they actually need it. Although, alternatively, many people are caught off guard when they realize that one or both of their parents are incapable of caring for themselves. Don’t let this happen.

It may not be for years that your parent will need to relocate, not with the help of able-bodied children and grandchildren around. But as time moves on, taking care of an aging parent can interrupt and rupture family ties. Don’t wait until it is too late to start investigating a new living situation for your aging parent. Take notice of small changes in behavior or sudden mood swings that may seem out of character.

Also, a change in personal hygiene is also a strong signal that its time to start looking into options. If you notice that your mom or dad isn’t bathing or following their daily routine like they used to, it’s a sign that they’re going to need some help soon. Assisted living helps with daily tasks like bathing and dressing, things we kids may not be able to help out with on a constant basis, thanks to jobs and family matters.

Some of the best care facilities have waiting lists so its never to early to start looking at options. You don’t want to be caught completely unprepared when it becomes apparent that your mom or dad need help immediately. Be ready for it, so start asking around early to get referrals and get on the lists. It’s always a good idea to involve your parent in the decision. They should be able to check the grounds and interact with the people working or living there before moving in, too.

Further Reading: Transition Tips for Entering Assisted Living

4. How can I afford senior living for my parents?

Money always matters, sad as that statement is. Mom and dad probably have a fixed income now and to avoid still paying a mortgage, the house would need to be sold.

Budgeting is incredibly important when it comes to any type of health care, but there are programs to look into and other ways to help pay for housing and assistance, including financial help from family members. Most senior living communities are experts at getting their money in some way or another, but its always recommended that you speak with a independent financial consultant who is familiar with your parent’s economic situation. Also, Medicare might be an option for some, but the program only pays for skilled nursing care and may not be enough to cover 100% of senior living expenses.

The best advice I can give you is to talk to your parents about their economic situation years before considering. How much money do they have in savings? What is left on the mortgage? Any debt issues? Who will have Power of Attorney? Nobody likes to talk about these things, but when the time comes, you’re going to need this information to help finance your parents’ care. Fight through the uncomfortable part and find the answers you’ll need to make the best decision possible. Again, planning for senior living ahead of time will save you a lot of stress down the road.

Further Reading: Paying for Your Parents’ Care

Hopefully, some of the tips here will help you start to plan for your parents’ care. The best thing to do is to start the planning process early. Don’t wait until it’s too late to have a plan in place when its time for senior living. The good thing is that there are thousands of choices out there and although this situation can be frustrating, you’ll certainly be able to find something that you and your family agree is the best place for mom or dad.

For more information, check out our section on Care for Mom and Dad


Posted on May 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Posted in News For Seniors |