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Blog › October 2015

Home Staging Worth the Money, Effort? Yes.

Nearly every home seller hopes to get their property sold quickly and at top dollar.

Staging may be just the thing to help in that quest, according to the National Association of REALTORS’® 2017 Profile of Home Staging (http://bit.ly/2tGmtXe).

Using things like furniture, color, lighting, and accent pieces, professional stagers transform for-sale homes from ho-hum to oh-ah and work to make a property appeal to the largest number of prospective buyers

And their work has an impact: 39 percent of sellers’ agents said that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market, according to NAR’s report.

Here are some of the report’s key findings:

 

Additional findings include:

  • The most commonly staged spaces include the living room (83 percent), kitchen (76 percent), master bedroom (69 percent), and dining room (66 percent).

  • Staging the living room was found to be most important to buyers (55 percent), followed by staging the master bedroom (51%), and the kitchen (41 percent).

  • Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as a future home.

 

Your Needs Long-Term


Preparing Well for Long-term Needs

How well are you preparing for your long-term care needs and who will catch you if you fall?

Those are a couple questions addressed in an August 2015 BMO Wealth Institute report, As you approach the age of wisdom, who will catch you if you fall?”

The report can be a good starting point for thinking about where and how you want to age and ways to finance your plan. It also makes the case for considering long-term care insurance policies and outlines some tax strategies that can offset some long-term care expenses.

“For Canadians, one of the greatest fears associated with aging is not being able to afford or have access to health care services and long-term support when these are required,” according to the report.

The survey asked Canadians to name their greatest health care-related retirement concern and it found that 40% of respondents most fear losing their

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ability to live independently, 17% of people worry about having enough money to pay for adequate health care, and 15% worry about being able to afford to live in their own homes throughout their lifetimes.

Yet, 19% haven’t prepared for the possibility of becoming unable to live independently.

The report also outlines the sometimes staggering costs of long-term care, whether it’s provided at home or in a facility.

Costs vary from province to province, but the most eye-popping figure comes from Ontario, where the cost of living in a retirement home could be as high as $132,000 per year.

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Naturally, planning well factors into aging well. BMO lists some of the key reasons to incorporate long-term care costs into your overall financial plan.

They include:

 Avoiding being a burden to family members and friends

Burden of care

Yet another reason to plan wisely is to help the loved ones who will be taking care of you as you age. Though many children, nieces, and siblings are happy to help, caregiving exacts a mighty toll on caregivers.

Here are some caregiving statistics from a Ceridian study, Double Duty: The Caregiving Crisis in the Workplace.

  • Canadian respondents say they spend an average of 23.4 hours on caregiving activities in a typical week.
  • Most respondents say caregiving is a rewarding, but the most negative drawbacks are fatigue (69%), stress (69%) and sadness (59%).
  • Respondents also report having trouble getting their work done on time (44%), have had difficulty focusing at work (41%) or have had to miss work entirely (35%). Forty percent have experienced financial hardship or loss of income. And 21% report greater alcohol or drug use because of caregiving demands.

For more, see: www.ceridian.ca/news/2015/0903-study-reveals-challenges-of-caregiving-and-impact-on-productivity-engagement-in-workplace.html.

 

 



SENIORS + KIDS = MAGIC


Seniors + Kids = Magic

When you’re vetting long-term living options, look beyond just the traditional measures of location, price, and amenities of a facility.

There’s a new item to add to your wish-list.

Kids.   

The presence of young children can transform the ambiance of senior living centers and improve residents’ lives.

The evidence can be found in “Present Perfect,” a documentary film (www.presentperfectfilm.com/) that explores the lives of residents at Providence Mount St. Vincent, a Seattle retirement home. The home is situated in a building that also houses a child care program, the Intergenerational Learning Center (http://washington.providence.org/senior-care/mount-st-vincent/services/child-care), and the arrangement brings seniors and kids together five days a week for schmoozing, dancing, doing artwork, and having lunch.

The filming has wrapped up and a Kickstarter campaign (www.kickstarter.com/projects/1246023967/present-perfect-a-documentary-film-post-production/description) just raised over $100,000 that will allow the Seattle filmmaker, Evan Briggs, to edit the movie.

 Isolation to engagement

 Briggs’ film shows the magic when the two age groups mix it up. Kids romp among seniors in wheelchairs, and the two groups play, giggle, and work together.  

 Seniors become engaged, they laugh, and the kids treat them like they’re perfectly normal and not compromised by age, illness, and infirmity.

 One of the movie’s points is that such scenes shouldn’t be abnormal.

 “I wanted to explore aging and what’s not right -- and to present a hopeful solution -- and show that it’s feasible to address,” says Briggs.

And one thing that’s not right is the removal of seniors, both physically and emotionally, from the rhythms of society.

Present. Perfect.

Briggs says she observed a distinct difference in seniors’ behavior when kids were present and when they weren’t.

For one, she saw that seniors could be sitting side by side in utter silence. But the minute kids arrived, the majority of them perked up and started engaging.  “I wondered about what about the place stripped them of their will to interact,” she recalls.  “It seems that they derive joy just from interacting with the kids.”

In one clip, a little boy repeats his name over and over to a resident who can’t quite hear if his name is Max, Matt, Mack or Match. The little one never loses his patience, nor does he write the man off and slink away. How often does it happen that adults simply give up in such a situation and melt into the woodwork?

“Kids are totally willing to put themselves out there. They create a different dynamic,” Briggs comments.

And the title of the film is no accident. “Everything happens in one temporal space. Both groups have the ability to exist in the present better than most adults can,” Briggs says. “It’s something we could all learn from, and it felt nourishing to me to be living in the moment.”

Aging reimagined.

For kids, the experience brings immediate benefits as well as ones that may be realized decades into the future.

The children get the attention of a grandparent figure, they see aging as a normal process, and they gain a greater capacity to understand and accept differences, whether a person has hearing challenges or uses an oxygen tank or a wheelchair.

Who knows what the ripple effect of that early, positive exposure to seniors will be. Deeper compassion? A greater willingness to integrate older people in their lives? A desire to change the way society treats and views seniors?

 Future perfect?

The movie also provides an opportunity to reimagine how to care for seniors and in a way that can bring them greater joy, vitality, activity, and human connections.

And aging challenges aren’t exclusive to North America. Briggs and Providence Mount St. Vincent have received calls and media attention about the program from around the globe – Italy, Spain, and New Zealand, for instance. “There are few people who aren’t behind that idea,” says Briggs, who believes that changing how we treat seniors is possible.

For instance, why can’t the fancy nursing homes that are being built from the ground up incorporate a child care component? With all the mixed-use buildings being introduced in cities and suburbs, why not integrate senior care and public spaces where people of different ages can come together naturally?

So “Present Perfect” isn’t just a heartwarming story.  It can serve as a call for something more. Something better.

And who better to push for change in how society treats seniors and how they’re housed and cared for than the huge population of aging baby boomers?

 

 



WOW GEN Y


If you’re looking at home renovations with an eye toward design and features that will appeal to the next generation of buyers – the millennials – take a look at “Five Design Attributes Guaranteed to Wow Gen Y.”

The Builder magazine story (www.builderonline.com/design/consumer-trends/five-design-attributes-guaranteed-to-wow-gen-y_o?o=0) may give you some ideas on how to revamp your house and incorporate some of the features that will grab the attention of today’s buyer.

Among the amenities that wow include smart home technology (think Nest thermostats, for instance); green features that save on energy costs (think energy efficient windows); and open spaces and outdoor amenities like open kitchen and entertaining spaces inside and seating areas and fire pits outside.



VETTING HOUSING FOR LGBT FRIENDLINESS


The attitude toward the LGBT community in assisted living and long-term care venues also can present problems and even make some feel a need to return to the closet. But there are some ways to get a read about how welcoming a facility is to LGBT community members. “Diversity Our Strength,” a toolkit (http://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/longterm_care_homes__services/files/pdf/lgbt_toolkit_2008.pdf) developed by Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services, offers some rules of thumb to follow when vetting a potential retirement facility.

Here are 7 things to watch for:

1.Valuing diversity is reflected in the home’s values statement, and diversity includes sexual orientation and sexual identity.

2.An anti-discrimination statement is visibly posted stating that equal care will be provided to all, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, physical ability or attributes, religion, sexual identity and gender identity

3.Policies, guidelines, and practices of the home don’t contain any barriers to LGBT inclusion.

Evidence of positive signs and symbols displayed throughout the home, such as written, graphic materials, images, artwork and

4.signage that indicate that it’s welcoming to LGBT people. Such signs could include the rainbow flag, images of same-sex couples, and posters, information, and magazines relevant to the local LGBT community.

5.Written materials offered to the public that clearly reflect non-discrimination policies and practices and reflect a welcoming environment to LGBT residents. This would include fact sheets, promotional material, and information provided to the public during facility tours.

6.Language in written forms and assessments that don’t assume heterosexuality as the norm and instead use terms like partner rather than husband/wife, for example. 

7.The environment gives a sense of being safe, affirming, and respectful to LGBT residents and their families and friends.

Despite the housing hurdles that face LGBT seniors, the bright side is that there’s now greater awareness and more resources you can tap to get help with LGBT-friendly senior housing for yourself or a loved one. 

Resources:

Center Link (www.lgbtcenters.org/Centers/find-a-center.aspx): Use the site’s map to locate LGBT Community Centers and member affiliates in the United States and around the world.

Fife House: http://www.fifehouse.org

Fudger House: http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/06/30/for-lgbt-seniors-in-long-term-care-facilities-canada-offers-little-in-the-way-of-support/fudger-house-one-of-the-very-few-senior-homes-for-members-of-the-lgbt-community-in-canada-1/

Gen Silent (http://gensilent.com/about-2/): The film relates stories of LGBT seniors and how they feel who feel compelled to return to the closet because of discrimination. It also addresses discrimination and bullying in retirement care settings.