Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Butterflies are free-part 2 of The Start of the Empty Empty Nest

When my husband and I first got married my mother in law told me children are like butterflies.  Once they grow their wings they will be set free and go off on their own.  Although she gave me this advise on our wedding day and was referring to the prospect of me taking away her only son,  I profoundly listened to these words and tried my best to always make her feel our presence in her life.  She was very fortunate to have all three of her children remain within proximity to their breeding ground.  Although one ended up moving to western Mass. she often would visit while the other two lived within a 6 mile radius of where they grew up.

In my nuclear family my parents ended up being the ones fleeing their nest when they migrated south to Florida and I was the one who remained behind.  My brother also moved out of state.  Now fast forward to thirty three years later and my butterflies have all spread their wings and moved away.  My husband and I still have our nest however it will officially be empty this week as we soon drive our youngest to New York.

Change has always been hard for me and writing gives me time to put my thoughts down on paper and allows me to find some perspective to my emotions.   Today is the official moving day.  My eyes are watering and I am hopeful to be able to contain my emotions and enjoy the move in.  I will update my blog once it is complete and further reflect on the move.  I find the transitions to always be the hardest for me and once I am on the other side usually do well.

Ironically almost 35 years ago I was the one moving to New York for my first job and my mom moved me into my studio apartment in Forest Hills.  It seems like just yesterday and I remember how excited I was to move to NYC.  At the time the song  New York, New York by Frank Sinatra was my motto.  I had an Internal Audit position with Dun & Bradstreet Corporation on Park Avenue and loved the excitement of being a part of the New York business professional scene.  I worked from headquarters but was able to travel to clients worldwide.  Coincidentally my daughter will have a similar role with a consulting firm located a few blocks from Grand Central and near my location.  In many ways I am excited to relive this stage again vicariously.  I now empathize with how my mother felt when I told her I was excited to move out to an exciting place from Newton.

I was fortunate to have my daughter spend the past month with us on the Cape and we had a lot of fun quality time including beaching, bike riding and watching Game of Thrones.  It was a great month with many packed memories.  We will soon embark on our four hour drive in a well packed car. For me the hardest part will be once it is emptied and then we return to an empty house.

 More to come in a few days.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The empty, empty nest

 I started blogging a bit when my youngest daughter was about to graduated high school in spring 2013.  My first blog was called "ihatch" and most of my posts were therapy to me fear of becoming an empty nester. We raised three kids each spaced about three an a half years apart with diverse interests.  They were involved with many extracurricular activities of which we often participated.

The night my daughter hit accept on her college decision at midnight on April 30, 2013 I subscribed to the Huntington Theater as I thought we would have nothing to do on our Saturday nights going forward.   We had close to eighteen years of weekends filled with middle and high school theater, ice hockey games, soccer practice, play rehearsals, cheerleading competitions, bar mitzvahs during the early teen years and much more to keep our schedules occupied.  I was then fearful that my husband and I would look at each other and have nothing to do.  On the upside, we have found more than enough things to do with our free time and have had great opportunities to travel and reconnect with old friends. There are some very positives aspects of having an empty nest but this soon can become counterbalanced. 

Since Michelle started college we quickly learned that we were the sandwich generation.  Although she would be "local" at Tufts this would be the first time our family of five had only two occupants in our four bedroom house.  In the first month of attendance at college,  my father passed away and we began to have elder care issues with my in-laws.  A few months later it became necessary for them to move to an assisted living facility. A year later, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and moved in with us for about 6 months.  After her passing about 9 months after diagnosis ( my daughter had finished her sophmore year in college) my father in law began dialysis and his health dimished as my daughter ended her junior year abroad.  

We have had four years of illness, downsizing and moving of parents, organizing elder care issues and all associated with the generation of parental care.  I have had hands-on experience with downsizing and helping my own elders transition towards more managed care living arrangements and have since earned the SRES designation in real estate.  I am now able to and willing to share what I have learned.

At this point, my youngest daughter just graduated college and will be moving to NYC.  My other two grown up children also live out of state, one on Brooklyn and one in San Francisco.  Since the summer our youngest started college we have also purchased a smaller townhouse property on the Cape that we could consider downsizing too in the future.  Our kids prefer to visit us on the Cape as their vacation and my husband works long hours when we are off Cape. 

As I have mentioned in other posts, like most baby boomers the cost to upkeep a large house should be re-evaluated.   I spend most of my time in the kitchen, bedroom and occasionally the family room to watch TV.  Each time I have to pay to landscape, mulch or do an internal repair I question our priorities at this stage and feel the money spent to maintain this type of house could be better used elsewhere.  My husband and I are at the stage of starting to reconsider large home ownership and I will blog about this process as it develops.  One of my goals over the next year or so will be to de-clutter and get rid of many of the contents in our primary home that we don't need at this point in life.  We have much too much. 

I admit, I am sad to have an empty, empty nest.  I look at young families and have so many fond memories.  I will probably cry when dropping our daughter off next week and am saddened by the fact that all three of our kids have chosen to live out of state.  My friends all say it is great that we will have nice places to visit and yes while that is true,  it does take money and coordination and will get harder and harder for our entire family to be together on a regular basis. I will be scouring for inexpensive airline tickets  every Tuesday and have set up price alerts to the west coast.  Thankfully New York City is only a four hour drive. 

All said and done,  I will have plenty of time to focus on my real estate business this fall and will welcome any referrals to keep my schedule busy.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys writing about local events and issues near and dear to her heart.  Please visit her website or visit her Facebook page @wendybcb.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The basics to a happy home and balanced day

A common phrase I hear a lot as a realtor is that "Home is where the heart is".  I believe one of the things that defines home is a place where people feel comfortable and welcomed.   This  type of environment is not defined by the size or age of the property but rather by the ambience set by its owners.  No matter the square footage of a house,  the kitchen often becomes the epicenter of the property.  One lesson I learned from my parents (who had the smallest house of  all my friends)  was that it was alway very important to be a good hostess to anyone crossing the threshold.  It was important to always have a full kitchen and to offer beverages (either warm or cold) to anyone who visited.   Following through with this philosophy in life is to always be prepared and able to serve my guests.  You never know who may come by unexpectedly.  Thus when I set up my kitchen below I am sharing my basic vital items that I always keep on hand.

As many of my friends know I am a big coffee drinker.  I frequent Starbucks and have more recently learned how to make a good brew at my house.  In fact, the first purchase for my house even before kitchen furniture was a coffee maker.  I have more recently acquired different coffee maker devices specific to my crowd.  (see my toys in bottom photo).  Depending on the guest size,  I will make a pour over cup if it is just for me or use a Keurig for my husband who loves flavored coffee.  If I have a large group I will brew a pot of coffee.  A good cup of coffee is particularly enjoyed earlier in the day.  It is also great as a mid-afternoon pick me up or after a meal with dessert.   In addition,  coffee is always great to offer a guest who may be doing work at one's home during the day.  (Of note, I also keep a full stock of tea bags on hand).  My guests often say I run a great local coffee shop!

Conversely towards evening a libation is a great way to wrap up a busy day.   Most adults (over 21) I know will enjoy a glass of wine.  Wine is a the holy drink of many religions but has also become the versatile drink to have as the day winds down for even the agnostic.   I often enjoy having a glass before dinner (sometimes while cooking).  I also welcome the chance to share a glass of wine with guests  often accompanied by appetizers or during a home cooked dinner.  Wine is perfect to serve during a party or  an evening social event , as well, such as bookclub.

For the non-drinkers I always have some ice cream on hand in my freezer as this is something easy to serve that generally disappears quicker than it would perish.    Who doesn't love ice cream?  This is alway my happy food and my last basic stock item.  Guests of all ages can't say no to a little treat and just the mention often brings a smile to ones face.  These days I try to keep a supply of regular and low sugar options as some of us have to watch our diets.  Although there is nothing better than Brighams Ice Cream,  the Halo flavors are low in sugar and high in protein and a great alternative.  Ice cream is a great mid afternoon snack or after dinner dessert.  It is also a great late night munch.

These days with the all the turmoil in the world, all three of my above basics can help one get through each challenging day.  I enjoy a cup of coffee at home when I wake up in the morning as I read the newspaper and catch up on my social media feed.  I may also pick up a cup mid-day as a pick me up.  Incidentally studies have shown positive health effects on drinking coffee including longevity.  More often than not,  most of the turmoil is a bit abnormal and once I get home at the end of the day, a glass of wine is quite welcome while I watch World News.  I sip it slowly as I prepare dinner and generally finish it off with my meal.  My doctor actually told me a glass of Red Wine in moderation is actually good for my heart and we all love to listen to "Doctor's Orders".  Lastly depending on how much I ate at dinner I will have a small scoop of ice cream for dessert or sneak downstairs and have a bit later in the evening before catching the daily recap on late night comedy shows.

As my readers can see, my three basics have been the key ingredients to make my house a happy home.  Whether I am entertaining or home alone, these easy items enable me to be a good hostess or to keep balance in my daily homelife.  I love hearing from others about what simple things make them happy and help make their homes their happy place.  Maybe we can meet up in person and discuss over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys writing about local events and issues near and dear to her heart.  Please visit her website or visit her Facebook page @wendybcb.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What is means to be a valuable team player

When I was a young child I absolutely hated team sports.  I was not very athletic and was often the last choice by appointed team captains for their team.  The captains wanted a team of winners and it was commonly perceived that I would bring the team down.  I always felt isolated and a bit like an outsider to this activity that so many of my peers flourished in.  As I graduated to be an upper classman, I had the option of selecting physical education activities that were a bit more specialized.  At this point I also was allowed to get credit to take something off campus on my own dime.  I much preferred taking a dance class at a classmates mother's dance studio to taking a required team sport at my high school.

In my first job as an accountant I too learned to excel in my own style of work and enjoyed independent projects at an entry level position, however as I watched my colleagues move up the ranks I began to learn more about the comrade they shared around the coffee break area talking about team sports.  Although an anomaly to my upbringing, (my Dad was a historian and said sports were against his religion) I began to see the value of these conversations.  My colleagues were sharing a common interest that sparked conversation beyond the parameters of a spreadsheet.  New understandings of workmanship were often sparked during these impromtu dialogues and sometime led to collaboration of work ideas.

Sadly politics has become a high level team sport.  There are two major teams who do not understand the value of team sports.  Each team is becoming extremely polarized for their own benefit and it is becoming nearly impossible to work together.  Last week Mitch McConnell, Republican House Majority Leader said if the health care bill doesn't get repealed the Republicans may need to work with Democrats as a last resort.  Shouldn't this have been a positive sign to allow the 2 major players to work together to come up with a plan to ammend the ACA Health plan that works but needs some modification.  Instead today they vote to push ahead "repeal" and then "replace" and are rallying to get everyone on the McConnell team.

As a realtor we are trained to work and collaborate with other professionals who are able to complement and enhance our skill set. This includes working and collaborating with professionals on both sides of a transaction to optimize the purchase or sale of real estate.  When I studied management during my MBA program we were taught that the most successful leaders were the ones who worked with others and took the team approach.  In one book I read a long time ago it was noted that the most effective managers were the ones who allowed the team approach and often the best ideas come from the bottom.  See book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman (Warner Books) was an American business management “bible” that presents eight specific management principles common to successful companies.  Many of the practices in the book are still being used today by the successful top tier companies.  

As we move more and more forward in the current administration means you have to be on the "right" team of the leader or you are bullied and singled out.  There is no such thing as equal play time.   This was further exemplified today by Trump when he publicly stated today his disappointment in Jeff Sessions for not recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.  Although I do not agree with much of Sessions policies he is a man who is following the law and doing his job in accordance with the Constitution.  The President is not a team player and believes that all loyalty must be to protect him.  A true leader would trust the team to do what they feel is right and to support their work.  

Although through my life and career my perception of participating in a team has changed drastically.  I have learned to become a team player when it is important but it has also become apparent to me that team loyalty is only valuable if the members also have a sense of integrity and can stand up to their individual beliefs when they conflict with the goals of the team.  To me this is the true definition of becoming a winner. 

p.s. since writing this post the latest version of the repeal and replace of the ACA health care bill has not passed thanks to the teamwork of Chuck Schumer for the Democrats and the Heroic efforts of 3 Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Wendy is a realtor at Coldwell Banker Needham.  She has been a realtor for over 8 years and knowing the area quite well can share a hands on local perspective.  She is constantly networking and working hard to build a team that will provide the best level of skills available to fully service her clients in all aspects of the real estate transaction.  She also has her SRES,   Feel free to contact her directly or click here if you would like to learn more.  

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Will July 4 bring us together or keep us blindsided?

When one thinks about American traditions July 4 always comes in to mind. The themes of patriotism, "The Star Splanged Banner" and "America,The Beautiful" as well as parades, barbecues  and fireworks have become the hallmark of the typical way to celebrate the birth of our great nation.  

This year however the ideology of patriotism has taken on a different and sometimes divisive feeling.     Half the country seems to view this idealogy as wanting to go back in time to the great period of deregulation and manufacturing prosperity.  Technology has replaced much of our society and progressed towards a more service oriented and global economy in the span of my career.  Much of the old manufacturing jobs no longer exist.   

As I watch the America of today and hashtags like MAGA "make America great again" the meaning behind this idealizes for some a conservative less unified United States of America than I remember growing up with.   In fact,  some of these rants and statements actually make me cringe at the thought of what patriotism doesn't mean to many Americans.  I find it sad  and it makes it difficult to share the same space with many who under this philosophy do not stand for the same meaning of patriotism that I grew up with.  

I grew up in a different America.   The world I knew wanted to take care of those less fortunate and have always worked hard to make  the world a better place.  In the Jewish tradition this is called Tikin Olam  "repair the world".   The America I see ,particularly, since January has seen a much more self-centered America where people just want to take care of themselves.  

The proposed health care plans are made to make the rich richer, environmental protection regulations are being forgone by lobbyists to the likes of the Koch brothers and the energy populist base to make those investors in many oil and commodity companies richer , see EPA de- regulations, regulations on education and private schools are dividing instead of bridging  cultural understanding for our youngest citizens ( See Education reforms).  The public school was a place where we all learned and grew from each other.   We worked to cooperate with others and to have a society where we learned to become inter-dependent.  

Freedom of the press and government transparency are gone.  In fact as I began writing this blog on Tuesday,  Trump had just asked the press to leave a meeting he was having with just Republican senators to discuss the health care bill .  This is a bill that was created behind closed doors by 13 white rich men that will impact all Americans.  Our country should represent all Americans not just the rich agenda.   See Dark Money.  Shouldn't we all be included in the conversations .  It seems most of the rights and freedoms  that we should be providing to our citizens appear to be dissipating.

I feel that since the start of the new administration we have started to become much more independent with each man  out for himself.  I don't think this is the America that our ancestors dreamed of.  Most of us were immigrants and came here with common goals.  See   Lin Manuel remix . I think our ancestors wanted us to work cooperatively together globally and in a unified manner with a set of the values that we don't often see now.   

Further since starting this blogpost there has been a national epidemic of bullying starting from the top.  see Cruella and this doesn't even approach the policy issues that concern me.  I am honestly not sure I can say I am proud to celebrate our Nation's birthday if this is how we are becoming represented throughout the world. There seems to be a total meltdown of respect and ethics stemming from our leaders.  In addition,  there is talk of repealing the ACA act without a replacement thus uninsuring millions of the sick and vulnerable.  What is going on here? Just turn on the news.  

I don't have all the solutions but in my world to make America great again we all have to work together and have respect for those who share and will converse to discuss our differences.  I hope all Americans will take this holiday weekend to reflect on the core values that have made us a great nation.  I hope the America I grew up with will be the America of my children's tomorrow.  

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys writing about local events and issues near and dear to her heart.  Please visit her website or visit her Facebook page @wendybcb.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Big house, small house.....My personal baby boomer journey

As part of the baby boomer generation either I or one of my family members has transitioned through all phases of the real estate cycle.  When I was born, my parents first lived-in an apartment and in the late 60s bought a small but affordable ranch house in Oak Hill Park, Newton.    It was on a quarter acre lot with 3 bedrooms and one bath and cost $24K.  At the time Newton was ranked and still is ranked as one of the top public school systems in the state.  Their top priority was for my younger brother and I to be able to attend the Newton public school system.  As a child, I perceived this home to be the tiniest house of all my friends and an embarrassment to bring people over.  Looking back this may have been a predecessor for the Tiny House  movement although my parents did not live a minimalistic lifestyle (this was early days of collecting habits of my dad.)  See my blog decluttering.

As I went through high school, interestingly,  this little house became the destination for many of my friends particularly after a movie or date.  My parents always had an open door policy and welcomed my friends to visit whenever they wanted.    The small cozy space had a welcoming warmth that guests enjoyed the minute they entered the front door.  One time, although a bit late (I think 1:00 am) a friend, Billy rang our door bell and said "he was home from college".  Although we told him it was a bit late for a non-college setting the idea that he would stop by was actually heartwarming and became a long time family joke that "Billy was home from college"(he was studying nearby at Bentley). I learned from my parents how to make a house a home and have since carried this philosophy throughout my adult years.  They were always open to hosting dinner guests or having friends over for fine tea and coffee served in the nicest of bone china.

Once I went away to college and then graduated I moved to my our series of apartments before getting married and buying a starter home.  Right out of school,  I moved outside West Hartford Connecticut for an auditing job with Emhart Corporation.  I had searched through for a roommate through the West Hartford JCC at the time and found a two bedroom to share with someone already there in a very family oriented suburb which was not fun for a single college grad.  After one year of discontent with both my job and my living situation I decided I really wanted to be in a NYC and got a great job at Dunn & Bradstreet Corporate and my own apartment.  I found a small studio in Forest Hills New York with an easy commute to Manhattan where I was working for two years.

Missing my family and close friends as well as starting to date my now husband,  after two years it was time to move back to the Boston area.  I again started a new job in Needham and found an apartment in Chestnut Hill that I lived in for a year prior to getting married and moving to a 2 bedroom apartment in Newtonville.  During this time my husband was finishing a residency program in Boston and I studied for my MBA at BU. At this point an apartment was perfect as we both had full-time jobs and studying to do.

Once my husband finished residency and we were about to start a family we were ready to enter the housing market and started our search for our first home.  At the time we couldn't afford the high property prices in Newton or Needham ( my husbands family lived in Needham Heights) where we both grew up and a work colleague of my husbands encouraged us to look in her neighborhood of Dover, a rural community closeby.  In the mid-80s housing prices were booming and increasing much quicker than inflation and salaries. The starter home of my parents generation was now in the mid to high 200's.  

We ended up buying a raised ranch in Dover and closed one month to the date before our first child was born.    The house was structurally sound with 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths.  It was larger than the typical starter home and to me seemed like a huge home compared to where I grew up.  The lot size was an acre which is standard for Dover.  The area was very residential and only a few miles from the Needham line.   The house itself just needed some cosmetic updates which we would do.  The immediate needs of painting and redoing hardwood floors were tackled before we moved in but updating bathrooms and the kitchen could be done at a later time.  We were of the generation that understood that the first house would not be perfect.  We quickly learned that we had to compromise a bit and would need to put in our own money or sweat equity into tailoring it to our wants.

As part of our due diligence we drove around the area and went to the town hall to learn more about life in the community.  We learned that Dover had one of the top rated public school systems  and the amenities Dover had to offer fit our soon to be family needs.   As we drove around different areas in Dover we set our eyes on a few neighborhoods we admired as well but agreed that the location and size of this home was perfect for our family at the time.  We ended up staying in the house close to 17 years.

A few generations later, the starter home of our time may be a thing of the past. Todays millennials often seek out the maximum house they can buy.  Real estate is one of the largest single investments Americans will make and therefore it is important to buy the property you choose for the right reasons.  For insight into recent buying trends of millenials see a recent new article story on posted by CNBC.

As time progressed our family grew from three to five and in the late 90s we began to think about moving to a larger home.  We looked  off and on over a few years but truly did love our neighborhood.  As our daughters approached middle school though we decided it was time for them to each have their own bedroom.  We were bursting at the walls with clothing and things they needed and all felt we needed to upsize.  We ended up finding our dream home, a colonial, in one of the neighborhoods we aspired to move in when we bought our first home in Dover.  At that time it was just being built and didn't have trees.  Now in full bloom almost 15 years later it was bursting with families our age and we excitingly made the move.  The house was perfect and like my parents small home in Newton quickly became the "go to" place for our kids throughout their high school years.  We had a large basement and TV set up and always welcomed their friends.  Many a party and sleepover as well as a great cul de sac lot made our yard the perfect prom photo-op destination.

As the next decade approached our kids started to go off to college and leave the nest.   During this time we also had to deal with the process of helping our parents downsize and transition to care facilities as health care issues developed.  In addition to accumulating our own things we suddenly inherited our parents collections and items to deal with.  See Blog here Transition.  We now have a large house filled with things but the kids have all moved out of state.  The upkeep of this size house is high and a lot of work for two people.  We have since bought a townhouse on the Cape which is half the size and a the perfect space for our current needs.  Eventually we will decide what to do with our primary house.  

We are now seeing may of our neighbors downsizing from the suburbs towards an urban or resort lifestyle.  Many of my friends and colleagues are asking me, where I plan to retire?.  Although not quite ready ourselves I do have some suggestions for those who may be ready right now.  As we start to age, floor layout and ability to navigate a larger home may start to become difficult. For those who want to stay in their homes,  there are often renovation options to allow you to age in place.  The National Association of Home Builders has out together a checklist (click here)  NAHB.   

Today Baby boomers are changing the trends on the real estate market and will many opt to remain in place many choose to seek alternative living situations.  The options are growing now for our generation.  In California, for example a new law was just passed to expand the concept of Granny houses, small houses that could be adjunct to a property as an in-law or millennial type home for your extended family.  For those who may be aging and not be able to age in place or near family members there are senior housing options also available.  I suspect that as time goes on as the trendsetting generation there will be more innovative ideas coming along and I will share them as I become so informed. 

The other day, coincidentally my parents home in Oak Hill Park, Newton came on the market.  It is now listed at $659K and will probably sell in a bidding war above asking price.  As part of the weekly real estate brokers tour I went to visit the small ranch I grew up in.   The rush of great memories came flooding as I walked over the threshold.  I introduced myself to the listing broker and told her this was my childhood home.   She was actually the buy side broker when my parents sold the house in 2000 and remembered my parents quite well.  She asked if my Dad was the one with the large collection.   She moved to her Oak Hill Park house over 30 years ago  and raised her family there.  She said she went through a phase of thinking about upsizing but loved the area so much instead she chose to stay.  She too is an empty nester and said she is glad she did as this home is the perfect size for she and her husband today.  When I mentioned downsizing she suggested I consider making an offer as this would be the perfect size home for an empty nested baby boomer.  As I thought briefly about this idea I reflected on my own personal journey of living in this area most of my life.  

Wendy recently joined Coldwell Banker Needham.  She has been a realtor for over 8 years and knowing the area quite well can share a hands on local perspective.  She has also recently earned the SRES  designation and looks forward to helping other baby boomers as they approach their next transitions.  Feel free to contact her directly or click here if you would like to learn more.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Transitioning to Senior Living Options

Discussing retirement and longterm elder care planning with ones parents can be an uncomfortable conversation.  Often the topic arises at a time of necessity.  When confronted with this situation, it may be difficult to objectively seek out the best options as time can become of the essence.  When my father-in-law became ill a few years ago we confronted this issue first hand.  He was having a difficult time walking up and down a short flight of steps and his primary care doctor became very concerned about his stability.  She feared he could potentially break his hip and stated she would not give him a medical release after a short inhospital stay to return home.  She said he needed to more to an assisted living facility or would eventually end up in a nursing home.  We panicked and in a one week turnaround had to find a place where he would be able to move with his wife that would be acceptable as their next home.  My mother in law was beginning to show early signs of alzheimers and also needed a better living situation.  She appeared very upset and resistant and did not want to leave their home of 50 years.  

Understandably it would be a challenge to move them both to a new place and make it their home.  In order to get them to agree to move it became important to emphasize the safety aspects of finding a new place.  Click here for some suggestions on how to Convince an elder.  We had to take my mother in law to see many places while my father in law was in rehabilation care.  We emphasized that she couldn't live with him any longer unless they both moved to a safe place.  We met with the marketing agents and had her dine at the places we visited.  They showed us their best activities and tried to embrace her interest.  A key selling point was the food at each venue.   

We were fortunate to find an assisted living facility that had an apartment available in the same area where they lived.  The building was brand new and they became one of the first residents.   Their new home was physically located behind the street where they raised their family and my mother in law could still do her usual daily routines including playing mah jong and going to the nearby hair salon and CVS.  My father in law would be able to get the medical attention he needed and both would have all the amenities including home cooked meals, personal hygeniene and health care services.  

Once we found the place,  my sister in law and I managed the transition process from beginning to end.  We had to plan which items they could bring to the new place, arrange movers, organize the items needed in the new home and for a few months we kept their primary home up and running.  We set their new place up to look like a smaller version of their primary home with many of their favorite furniture pieces including their bed and china cabinet as well as some artwork.  My in-laws adapted quickly and became very happy in their new home.  

At first they wanted to see their old place but after a few weeks seemed to feel this was their home.  A big help was that we visited constantly and ate with them in the dining room.  They got a lot of attention when they moved and seemed to enjoy being in the spotlight.  A key selling factor for them became the meals.  They felt like they were in a restaurent for each meal and particularly loved the desserts.  We treated this as their new normal and arranged to have frequent visitors until they started to phase in the activities available.   My father in law continued to have medical issues and found the care he received was essential while my mother in law became immersed in the social activities.  

After a few monthes we determined they were settled and would permanently stay at the facility.   We then were ready to prepare their home for sale.  Sadly we had to go through all their belongings and determine each items ultimate fate.  Their new home had limited space and if up to my mother in law she would want to keep every item she owned.  We had her work with us for a few days but then realized we were not getting anything done.  We soon started to go over and clean when she was busy and unaware we were doing the job without her.  As her dementia increased she soon forgot much of the task and soon things that were out of sight were out of mind.  We spent a few months cleaning and purging.    We spent countless hours going through over 50 years worth of accumulated stuff.  We donated much to Goodwill and called the trash man to come pick up filled barrels every Thursday during this time. 

At this point we did not know about most of the services available to help with this process and did the bulk ourselves.  We didn't think about doing an estate sale but now retrospectively definitely could have easily had a weekend garage sale to purge the bulk.  The benefits of an estate sale company is that they come in, organize and sell.  Then they typically will broom clean the place.  Instead towards the end we ended up hiring to help us clean prior to listing to rid of the remaining clutter and empty the attic.  We ended up paying them to take away a lot that could have instead been sold.  Since this experience I have visited many sales where people buy just about everything from clothes to used tupperware and we could have sold it all.  I have now built a database of estate sellers to recommend to my future clients.  If only I had known 4 years ago.    

Once the house was emptied we had to also fix some minor things up prior to getting ready to sell.  We repainted, repaired some minor items and staged the place to look clean.  I took the role of Realtor at this point and worked to get the house marketed and sold.  The process became emotional for the family once an offer was made and my challenge became to keep this as the best deal for my in-laws. The main objective was to have enough proceeds available to pay for their new place.  It was a sad process and our best offer ended up being from a builder who has since torn down and rebuilt the house. I tell my family the house was the chapter of their life at this property and they were now entering a new chapter at the Assisted Living facility.  My in-laws transitioned smoothly and for them there was no looking back.   They ended up being very happy with the transition and we knew they were in a safe environment.  

I have since become interested in helping others going through this process and earned my SRES.  I have many good resources for baby boomers who may have parents going through this phase of life.  

Wendy recently joined Coldwell Banker Needham.  She has been a realtor for over 8 years and knowing the area quite well can share a hands on local perspective.   Feel free to contact her directly or click here if you would like to learn more.