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Old 02-23-2017, 12:58 PM
12,825 posts, read 20,180,279 times
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Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
We are going through some upheaval in my family now regarding my 81 year old grandmother who is becoming increasingly frail with mobility issues. She lives in a smaller, tri-level home they had built in 1967. The laundry is in the basement, living room and kitchen are on the main level, and the only bathrooms are upstairs with the bedrooms. The master bathroom is extremely small and only has a shower stall (if someone was sitting on the toilet, there would not be enough room for someone to stand at the sink that is between the toilet and shower). It can't accommodate a walker or any sort of mobility equipment. She is using a shower chair because she's afraid she'll fall and had a handyman she knows rig up some rails in the shower. Other bathroom has a tub that is larger, but this tub has not been used in years, so no idea if it needs work, etc.

She has had knee issues for the past several years with increasing severity and went for an MRI last week. The follow up was not good - she has a stress fracture, the knee is "bone rubbing on bone," and there is severe arthritis and inflammation. The doctors gave her a cortisone shot, but do not think surgery would help with all the arthritis. It is wear and tear for someone of that age, but she is throwing a pity-party and acts like she's going to have her leg amputated. She has no significant health issues otherwise.

Needless to say, the layout of this home is not doable for someone who has a hard time getting around. The walker/cane has to go up the stairs. The hallways and rooms are small, so difficult to manipulate a walker. There is a rail, but the stairs could easily lead to a fall for someone not sure on their feet. My aunt and sometimes myself are doing the laundry for her, carrying it up both sets of stairs. She pays a lady to clean once a week and is not able to do much of her own housekeeping. She's becoming less willing/able to drive, so I'll pick up groceries and bring them over a couple times a week, as she only goes out on Friday to the beauty salon and Sunday to church, and has difficulty getting through the grocery store. Dad and I have been taking care of maintenance around the house - I did most of the yard work last summer.

The mobility issues are getting worse, she is requiring more care over the last few weeks, and her insistence on staying in the home is frustrating. She still sees herself as active and able, but she is clearly not able to do the things she once did. We've tried talking her into downsizing since my grandfather passed away in 2009 (she is notably more frail with less movement), but she is absolutely unwilling to even entertain the idea. She complains the house won't sell (needs cosmetic updates but is mostly fine), that she won't get enough money from the sale of the home to buy something else (not true, but the home would probably bring $100k-$120k, which could get a one level condo or maybe a ranch), any number of reasons. The basement is still packed with his stuff and she does not want it cleaned out. We've all resigned ourselves to the fact that it'll have to wait until she passes.

Aunt has a one level townhome that is much more open and easier to get around in, and is trying to get grandmother to move in. Grandmother will stay over there on weekends sometimes but not permanently. It's becoming increasingly burdensome on my aunt and me to constantly get the groceries, do the laundry, me to do the yard work, etc. - it's probably a five hour a week commitment for me and more for my aunt, and we aren't into mowing season yet! Grandmother is not making this easy or convenient.

Did you have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that you need to downsize? How did it go for you and your family?
Once upon a time my parents (now down to one left) had a plan to downsize and relo. Most "normal" people around here who don't have 4 -5M stashed away do that. This being the land of the house poor. But oh no, not my parents. After looking at various places that normal Bay Area people downsize to, they determined that every place they considered was too redneck for them. That is a pretty extreme view. Some of the places included were very "purple" and there were even a few overtly "blue" ones. In any case, the surviving parent is still in the home I grew up in. To be fair, that parent is now getting scared of the future and has broached to topic of selling the house. I hope so. Alternative is terrible for all involved.

For ourselves, our current place is an absolute no go for aging in place. So we ARE going to move out well before fate forces us to. Downsizing disposal of stuff is well under way. Good stuff is going to charity and lesser stuff is getting recycled or repurposed as consumables.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by oldtrader View Post
My wife is 87 and I am 85, and in good health. We live in a 3,700 sq. ft 4 level luxury home, which includes 3 sets of stairs. However neither of us should ever climb stairs. Keeping it clean, is not something we enjoy anymore. Our home is across a county road, across the street from the best part of the city. So we had to make some adjustments.

We installed grab bars, in places like the tub and shower.

Installed 3 chair lifts one for each stairway. We easily move between floor now, in complete safety.

Hired a housekeeper to come in Monday Wednesday and Friday to clean starting 3 years ago. If for one reason or another, if we reach the point we need someone to provide transportation, our housekeeper will drive us anywhere we want to go in any weather in our Explorer 4X4. For groceries we have a large independent grocer here in our small town for perishables. Everything else we buy from Walmart On Line, and find we save about 40+% over buying local. We get it in 2 days from when we place the order. Needed new bagger blades for our mower, ordered them on line. Needed new chain saw blade to trim a couple of trees, ordered on line. Needed new front wheels for the mower which all owners find over time have problems, and got no flat wheels and tires on line and they are in transit at this time. Bought the snow blade for our mower on line. We have found we can get about anything we need on line, and can buy it a lot cheaper on line that in stores. Why spend 2 hours driving time, and have to possibly go to 6 or 8 stores to find exactly what you want for a cheaper price in a few minutes at most on line and have it delivered to your door.

We have 1 acre landscaped, and it is mostly trees, and lawn, so easy to keep up. We have a tractor mower, that mows the lawn, and most of the time we have some one do the actual mowing for us.

Our driveway is 75+ feet from our lane, which is 500 feet long. We have a blade on the tractor in the winter, so it is easy to get rid of the snow for both the yard, and for the lane. May run it myself, or the person that does the mowing in the summer clears the snow in an hour or less.

We own the home free and clear of loans. It has been appreciating at 10% to 12% a year in value so it is a lot better interest rate on our money, than we can get at the bank.

Our home is the only real contemporary home in out area with ceiling in the living room soaring to 25 feet with a window all and a fantastic view of the rocky mountains. Next door to the city, but on 5 total acres with 4 acres pasture, and a nice metal barn, with 2 stables attached to it. We have standing offers to buy it for appraised value less 6% (no commission to pay). As I was an investment real estate broker from 1972 till I finally retired, I do know how to do this, and if I am gone my was a real estate para legal, who ran the office and I handled our investment clients so she knows how to get it sold when we have buyers hoping we want to move. (We were both licensed brokers.)

When we get so we need some other living quarters in 5 to 10 years, we will sell the home and buy a duplex where we live in one side, and have someone living in the other unit to take care of any needs we have.

We could sell now, but the house is large enough we can have kids, and grandchildren with our great grand children come for visits for a few days and have room for them to stay so we can enjoy the company. And with 4 levels we can have different living zones so we don't fall all over each other.

The thing that is important, you adapt what you have to fill your needs, or you move out and find something more suitable. We have found with the stair lifts and safety adaptations we have made, that even younger families that want our home, are planning on keeping them. As one said, those chairlifts will be great when their elderly grandparents come to visit. Or if their son breaks a leg playing foot ball, etc. Also great to move heavy items between floors.
I wish my parents had gone for a duplex plan. I put a bug in my Dad's ear when my folks were still in their 60s but my Mom shut it down. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:21 PM
12,825 posts, read 20,180,279 times
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Originally Posted by Coloradomom22 View Post
I totally agree with this post. It's easy to judge until you have been there. My mother-in-law was an organized hoarder who refused to leave her home until she fell and had to go to a nursing home. When she died a few months later I ordered a driveway-sized dumpster and an eight member crew of family spent four days cleaning out the house and filling it to the brim. People think they can donate everything but most items are worthless for resale and if you do donate you are just causing charities to spend money disposing of your garbage. Older generations really took advantage of collecting things as most items made after 1970 were cheap and plenty. It may seem cold and heartless but it's all just stuff that younger generations don't want or need. And it's good to remember that your loved one enjoyed their stuff while they lived even if it has no value now. My mother died and my father still lives in their 3600 square foot packed house and I know that when the time comes we will do the same thing. Younger people don't want old "collectible" dolls, figurines, heavy entertainment centers, clunky couches, etc.
Unwanted wood items can be used for firewood.

Unwanted metal items have scrap value.

There are still alternatives to the dumpster, for the truly thrifty.

Of course, plastics and composites ... not so easy.
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Old 02-23-2017, 05:42 PM
Location: Somewhere in deep in Maine
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We came to terms with it by not doing it. We upsized. But after having to spend two weeks last spring cleaning out my mother in law's house, I did build a huge shelving system in the garage and organized what we had into that. And i did take four pickup truck loads to the dump of stuff that the wife had to take up here when we moved which would probably have saved us 500 in shipping costs by the moving van to where we up-sized to.
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:41 AM
1,168 posts, read 2,407,129 times
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Originally Posted by BayAreaHillbilly View Post
I wish my parents had gone for a duplex plan. I put a bug in my Dad's ear when my folks were still in their 60s but my Mom shut it down. Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

Just curious as to the time span between you putting "a bug in my Dad's ear when my folks were still in their 60s" to get a duplex and when it turned into the "Biggest. Mistake. Ever."

I'm pretty sure we wouldn't react to favorably when freshly retired and choosing between Maui or a ski lodge in the Colorado Rockies one of our kids suggested we settle for a duplex.................
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:52 AM
Location: Coastal Georgia
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We were in our early 60s and went to a one story house. Good thing because stairs are not easy for us, even though we're generally healthy. We also spent WAY too much time maintaining the yard.

There is nothing wrong with doing whatever it takes to stay in a home if you want to. There's no law. It would be nice if old people got rid of all their stuff, and moved somewhere with wide doorways and grab bars on the shower, but if they don't want to, OK.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:08 AM
Location: 49th parallel
2,626 posts, read 1,376,120 times
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Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
Grandfather bought a record player in an oak cabinet years ago. The thing is about waist high and probably well over 100 pounds. They always thought it was rare, so I found a model number and Googled it - it's a common model worth about $150.

I'm sure that it is long since obsolete as a record player - maybe it could be gutted and fitted with modern technology by a hobbyist, but it is more of a nuisance than it's worth.
Vinyl is coming back. I know lots of people who want to play their old stuff, which they have saved. Craigslist might get you a good sale.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:15 AM
Location: 49th parallel
2,626 posts, read 1,376,120 times
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Originally Posted by golfingduo View Post
This is such a great thread as I am beginning the process of clearing and organizing the house. DW and I are planning on selling our overly large (for us house) in about 5 years. I am a well equipped do it yourselfer and I am wondering where to draw the line. I am certain we will be traveling a few years early on and with no house to hold us back or cost us to keep we are considering a storage pod or two. Then there is where to keep that stuff stored at when the world's our oyster. Things like the bed may or may not travel with us so that is probably not a long term storage. What tools I have are important to me if we decide that after 2 or 3 years we want to settle back down will I want them. What will stay with the house for certain are the two snow throwers. Even if I want to do yard maintenance I doubt that is going to include snow removal and if it does I will just buy a new one. What I wonder is whether or not to keep my construction tools (air compressors (2), nail guns, air ratchet and impact tools). Do I also keep my portable work benches? What about all my sockets and wrenches? Do I dump them or keep them? How does anyone come to terms and cope with that change?
I will have to introduce you to my husband. I now just refer to his "jars of screws" whenever we talk about downsizing and he starts to wonder about his tools, etc. It must be very hard to part with the things that once were so useful and which, if you got into that situation again, would be useful again. We went through that once - sold all the tool, garden tools, etc., and then had to buy that all over again when the condo phase passed and we once more bought a house (silly us). Now we are heading back in the other direction again and the problem has reared its ugly head again.
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Old 02-25-2017, 09:33 AM
Location: 49th parallel
2,626 posts, read 1,376,120 times
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Originally Posted by Serious Conversation View Post
We are going through some upheaval in my family now regarding my 81 year old grandmother who is becoming increasingly frail with mobility issues.
Dear Serious Conversation, your problem is so heart-tugging that nearly everyone can relate. How to respect your elder's age and contribution to life and still urge them to make the necessary decisions for aging. I'm so glad she is finally in with your aunt, and I hope that situation can continue.

We knew my mother (age 88) would never move when my dad died. We were retired at the time and enjoying life on the beach, but at my husband's suggestion (I would never have suggested it myself, and he is so good for being the one to make the suggestion) we sold up and moved in with her. Our furniture went into a large outbuilding on the property, to wait until such time as we could get back on our own again.

I know this solution is not for everyone but it worked for us, and many hard decisions as far as she was concerned were avoided. She spent the rest of her life happy in her own place and with her own church and friends, and I do not regret our decision.
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Old 02-25-2017, 02:28 PM
Location: Tennessee
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I watch some of the HGTV buying shows and look at these people in their mid 50s still buying these huge houses (primary residence with three flight of stairs, raised vacation beach house on stilts and up a gazillion outdoor steps) here and abroad, and with high ceilings with high built in shelves, and think they'll be sorry.

I especially laugh at the ones who under no circumstances want their bedroom on the ground floor. Like the likelihood that you will never have surgery with a long recovery period is a sure thing when you get up in age.

Then there are the ones who absolutely have to have hardwood floors throughout their house and want lips on their fireplaces. Then I surf over to another channel and see the commercial. "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." You ever see any old people in the commercials on a hardwood floor with their head cracked open? Three of my friends fell last year inside and outside their homes and had physical damage (leg, ankle, shoulder) and another is in a nursing home after hitting her head on the way down from a fall three years ago. She just sleeps all of the time.

I was fine too when I was 55 but if it's your last home, you have to buy/rent it like you're going to be old.

No coffee table, ottomans, magazine racks, fireplace/wood burning stove lips, low hampers, laundry baskets on the floor in my place. Just something to trip over/bang into.

The home should have wide hallways and doorframes in case later in life you have to use a wheelchair, scooter or walker/rollator. You need to be able to turn around with one of those things.

Maybe your swollen/arthritic feet could use some carpeting when you are old.

High shelves when you tend to drop things because of conditions like arthritis/swollen joints? No. Microwave down low rather than up over the stove.

Let's say you think you'll be fine with stairs. How do you think you will do making multiple trips up and down those stairs with packages, groceries, suitcases, etc. when you are old and need to hold onto the railing with at least one hand so you can't carry as much. How will your balance be when you are cleaning the stairs (vacuuming/sweeping) and railings? If you are on medication?

If you are going to splurge, and you are contemplating a multi-level home, splurge for a full bathroom on the ground floor instead of a powder room. Have a walk-in/roll in shower.

Love those kitchen islands with stools as your primary eating space? What happens when you are too old/infirm to get up on a stool?

Don't give your relatives an excuse to put you in a nursing home years from now because your home is too hard for you to handle. Downsize and simplify.
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