Stan's World - Following Our Own Advice

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

May 15, 2019

It’s always a bit of a Deja vu moment for me when I wind up in a situation where I have to give myself the same advice I give to clients. When I speak to clients, I often say the words: “I understand,” though I may have never had that particular experience. It’s an attempt at empathy; acknowledging that I realize you’re in the process of making a difficult decision. 

Pearl and I are currently engaged in one of the many ‘aging’ discussions, and it pertains to our house: Should we stay, or should we move?

With a master bedroom on the second floor, our home is not an ideal residence to age in place. Steps are not your friend when you get past (you fill in the age), and the fall risks only increase as we get older.

On the other hand, our family fits here. Everyone can visit, and sleep over, and we can put leaves into the table so we can all sit around it. Like I say to everyone who will hear me, it all works until it doesn’t. It’s a conundrum many seniors face: “I like my house, but can I age well here?”

Some aging-in-place problems can be resolved with modifications: changing door handles for arthritic hands; widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair or walker; making bathrooms accessible; adding a chair lift. But there are also problems that can’t be addressed with modifications, so the advice we offer to clients is that it’s easier to make tough decisions when you’re calm and level-headed than when you are in the midst of a crisis.

And then there’s the money issue. Obvious expenses include moving costs, sales commissions, and closing costs. If this were a situation involving clients, they would point out that the housing market in Westfield has gone soft – according to our realtor, there are more than 200 homes for sale in Westfield – and they won’t get top-dollar for the house if they sell now.

In turn, I would point out that if they were to buy a comparably-priced house – with the coveted first-floor master bedroom – price is not a material issue. After all, if you sell your home in a down market, the house you buy in the same community also dropped in price.   

Pearl and I have talked through the process of aging, and we agree that even if we were to move now, there might be one (or two) more moves to go. We accept that, but as many clients can relate, making the decision to go, and then implementing it are two different events. (Is that why everyone doesn’t immediately act on my words of wisdom?) 

Stay tuned for the next chapter.



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