Helping seniors transition out of their home

In the U.S., 27% of adults age 60 and older now live alone. At some point, many of them will "age out" of their family home and need a new place to live - one that's better suited to their health and situation.

Sometimes, the house becomes too much to maintain, or the stairs too hard to climb. Often, more hands-on care is required, due to growing medical issues and/or social isolation.

As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, I'd like to address how to make this huge life transition as easy and as painless as possible. The SRES designation tells you a Realtor has special training and experience in assisting senior homeowners. We understand the emotional and logistical challenges, and we are familiar with the best senior housing options in local markets.

Fact: Moving is stressful

When it comes to stressful life events, moving ranks high on every Top 10 list. It's even more traumatic for elderly people leaving their longtime home, where their most cherished memories reside.

Yes, some people will happily swap a big old house for an active, maintenance-free, senior community. But for many, it's a necessity, not a willing choice.

Compounding their reluctance: Moving requires immense work and energy. The thought alone is so daunting that many people put it off until they're in crisis. By making it easier, we can help avoid this.

Downsizing needn't be overwhelming

Many seniors are overwhelmed by - or physically incapable of - sorting through decades of belongings. However, a good senior specialist real estate agent has relationships with professional downsizes and other providers who do all the heavy lifting.

So, while the homeowner makes the final decisions, the process is easier than you'd think.

Many seniors have dreaded this for years. And then they surprise themselves by experiencing a real sense of accomplishment once it's done.

Renovations are rarely necessary

Another common worry seniors have is that they'll have to make expensive updates before they can put their homes on the market. However, except for urgent repairs, this is rarely the case. Making extensive repairs isn't usually a good use of a senior's time or money.

Once a home is decluttered and cleaned up, it can be market-ready - something most seniors are very relieved to learn.

Finding somewhere new to love

The best way to help seniors move forward without fear or reluctance is to find them a new home they'll look forward to. Finding the right fit is critical, whether a senior apartment, assisted living or a continuing care retirement community.

A good specialist will take the time to learn what their clients love. Maybe they crave access to nature or opportunities to socialize. Maybe their priority is finding an apartment that will allow them to keep their pet.

Whatever makes them tick, the key is to find a place that will bring a senior some joy - no matter what level of care they need. It's easier to let go of the past when the future is bright.

And it's preferable to do so while you're in control, rather than need someone else to decide for you.

• Betsy Phillips is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and Accredited Buyer's Representative with Compass in Glenview. Contact her at

Betsy Phillips
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