I had a conversation with Warren Wolfe from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune last week. He asked me what kinds of trends I was seeing with seniors in the current economy. He was wondering if I was seeing seniors become “stuck” in their homes because of dwindling retirement accounts and homes that weren’t selling. I think he was looking for new trends and I’m afraid my answer wasn’t quite what he was looking for.
Senior’s aren’t inventing any new excuses to not move (note, I said excuses and not reasons). The objections raised to not moving usually fall into a few predictable categories.
1. Pride: My house is a badge of honor that symbolizes a lifetime of hard work and saving. It symbolizes success. I’m not ready to give it up.
2. Emotions: My house is where I raised my family and I have emotional ties to the memories. I’m not ready to give it up.
3. Identity: My house is in a community where I feel like I belong. My neighbors have been my social support for more than 40 years. I’m not ready to give it up.
4. Stuff & House Preparation: What will I ever do with all the stuff in the closets, basement, attic and garage? My late husband put up this wallpaper, and I just can’t take it down even if it keeps my house from selling. I can’t possibly go through all this stuff and I’m not ready to give it up.
5. Money: I don’t pay a mortgage and I don’t want to start having a monthly payment again. I’m afraid of running out of money.
6. Fear of the unknown.
Author's Note: I’m not trying to make light of our current economic state. It’s very true that home prices have depreciated, and seniors’ retirement accounts have lost value. This is also not applicable to seniors who are dependent on state funding aging services, nor a commentary on seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. I'm painfully aware of our shortcoming in serving seniors.
However, I am saying that if a senior says they want to move, there’s a way to make it happen. I have yet to be introduced to a case where, with the help of other professionals, we haven’t been able to make it happen.
Warren from the STRIB was looking for verification of a new trend. The new trends just might be increased fear of making a financial mistake, a mistaken myth that by waiting to move the home will appreciate enough in value to make it worth waiting, and the belief that the home will never sell. With education, everyone of these fears can be overcome. Seniors who are homeowners and own their home outright are no more stuck in their homes now than they have ever been.
Afterall, we humans are very adept at creating our own self-imposed limitations. What paradigms, thoughts or self talk are keeping YOU from accomplishing something?