Thursday, August 30, 2018

Seniors Staying in Their Homes

Rob Carrick says realtors and family members should stop pushing seniors to sell their homes. He portrays both groups as greedily seeking money. No doubt there are family members out there looking to get access to an early inheritance, but there’s no shortage of delusional seniors who won’t move but haven’t been able to properly maintain their homes in years and whose ability to care for themselves is in doubt.

As it happens, my wife and I have been living through a period where four seniors in the family are having difficulty managing in their homes. In one case there was no sign of dementia, but she wouldn’t leave a rural home even after requiring 24-hour nursing care at a cost that would have drained her savings in a couple of months.

In two other cases, dementia is an issue, but they insist on staying in a home they can’t maintain without constant help from overworked family. In a fourth case, she is already in an apartment, but often can’t even open her front door. We found another apartment that offers more indoor activities and varying levels of help, but, you guessed it, she won’t go.

It’s not that all seniors refuse to accept an obvious reality. My grandmother comes to mind. She made a decision in her young life that she and her husband couldn’t manage a farm any more. Later she decided the two of them had to leave their home for an apartment. She voluntarily gave up driving, and finally moved in with her daughter when they couldn’t handle being alone any more.

The internet rewards writers who offer strong opinions like “stop pushing seniors to sell their homes.” But how many times can you call 911 for a senior who was injured in yet another fall before you feel you must try to convince them to move to somewhere more suitable?

Elder financial abuse is a big problem, but seniors staying in homes they can no longer maintain or even get around safely in is also a problem. Each case is different, and no one answer works everywhere.

9 comments:

  1. SImply spouting popular statements about how seniors can stay in their homes is trite. Understanding that each situation is different and for every person who lives in their house until they are 90, there are many more stories of Seniors living in a very unsafe environment (in their own homes).

    The Boomers built great things and changed the world, but that same strong set of ideals that drove many of them to success, can become a trap in their Senior years. They don’t want to “Give Up” or seem like a “hopeless old man”. Our job is to make sure they are safe, and sometimes Safe means not living by themselves in the house they have lived in for many years.

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    1. @Alan: Agree. Sounds like your talking from personal experience.

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    2. Yes, right now I am dealing with this, and at times it is a frustrating and worrisome task. Even when you are dealing with Seniors with all of their faculties (which in my case I am not), sometimes physical impairments, are just too much to overcome.

      The same stubbornness that was a key trait in your loved ones life, becomes a detriment in this situation (e.g. “... the only way I am leaving this house is feet first...”, while strong rhetoric is a major issue for those trying to keep the Senior safe).

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  2. "Denial is not just a river in Egypt." Having been in your shoes (fortunately not with four seniors at a time!), I sympathize. There are no simple or easy answers.

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    1. @Deborah: You've got that right. But I see the other side of this too. There are lots of people who offer free advice about seniors moving into retirement homes when they're actually doing just fine in their own home. But when you can't wipe a kitchen counter or clean up pet poop on the carpet, it's time for a change.

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  3. I think that there are both stubborn seniors as well as unscrupulous people (not only real estate salespeople) that target seniors regularly. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. Senior's are even targeted regularly in what we all hope would be safe senior living facilities.

    You just try to do the best that you can for your senior, many factors make that difficult. Sometimes it takes tough love to convince a senior that they need to make difficult changes. You can't always save them every time they create their own crisis for themselves. Its far too hard on your own families life. It also promotes more of that behavior, when they have realized they have inadvertently created an enabler out of a good hearted family member.

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    1. @Paul: Good insights. The family member who caused us the most worry and trouble used to tell me that if she ever became a burden to just push her off a cliff. Back then, I would never have believed she would make just about every possible choice to (unintentionally) maximize the burden she put on neighbours and family.

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  4. I think we have to remember Rob's job is to 'sell' G&M articles too. I've already been there with family. There is no right or wrong here so your conclusion is definitely right "each case is different."

    Hope you played some golf this summer.

    Mark

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    1. @Mark: If I though Rob was primarily trying to sell a G&M article, I would have been far harder on him. I think that's a big part of what wrong in the news. His record of taking many sensible stands, even if they're not popular with some advertisers, is a big part of why I read what he writes.

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