Selling Your Home is Getting Easier

Since selling your home is usually necessary to make the down payment on a retirement community, many communities have realized that home sales are a sticking point for potential residents.  If you want to sell your home, retirement communities are there to help.  Here are a few things they’re doing to get you in the door:
  • Staging.  For someone who has lived in his or her home for decades, it’s easy to get stuck in dreadful decorating habits.  The décor may be dated.  The furniture might be older or scuffed.   There might be a giant collection of stuffed animals in the guest bedroom.  Whatever the case, some retirement communities are hiring professional stagers to freshen up the interior and give the home a look that is appealing to all potential buyers.
  • Home Repairs.  Just because the steady drip-drip noise in the bathroom doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean that it won’t bother potential buyers.  Many retirement communities are now offering some of these home maintenance services so that you can put your house on the market sooner and potentially get a better offer.
  • Bridge Loans. Say that you want to sell your home but it’s taking a long time.  Since retirement communities want you to move in before you change your mind, their incentive is to help ease your move faster.  Therefore, it’s becoming more common for communities to provide “bridge loans,” which allow you to prepay your entrance fee while you wait for your home to sell.  Having paid the entrance fee, you can move into the community.  Once your home sells, you pay off the loan with the proceeds.
  • Moving. Once you’ve sold your home (or perhaps even before), moving can become a challenge.  It’s not uncommon for retirement communities to offer complementary moving and/or organizing services.  Whether you want to pare down your belongings or simply not have to worry about the move, these professionals can help you make the transition.

Even if the community is not offering these services as part of a move-in package, you still might be able to negotiate some of these services into the contract.  After all, the goal is to get you to move in, and marketing offices will do what it takes to seal the deal.

A robotic wheelchair, Medicare fee cuts, depression treatments, and starting your own business

Wheelchairs are for the birds!  How about a walking robot exoskeleton?  It’ll set you back $40,000.

A doctor talks about not taking Medicare patients.  If Congress doesn’t change its plan to cut physician fees, he won’t be able to afford taking care of Medicare patients.  (Congress just extended the reimbursement cuts for two more months.)

The best treatment for depression:  A sugar pill?  A new study suggests that a placebo is better than traditional medication and talk therapy.

The new thing is starting your own business; it’s becoming more common amongst Boomers.  Plus: More seniors are working longer.

Long term care, Medicare scams, cancer phobia, and endometrial cancer

How to spot a Medicare scam: beware of gifts and don’t trust callers who claim to be government employees.

Boomers are “mad as hell” about their lack of long-term care choices.

What is almost as bad as cancer?  Cancer phobia.  Doing too much might soon be our biggest problem.

What’s the most common reproductive cancer in women?  Endometrial cancer.  Here’s what you need to know.

Alzheimer’s breakthrough, top health stories, new nursing laws, genetic testing, and for profit nursing homes

Researchers are one step closer to stopping Alzheimer’s disease.  Scientists have created antibodies that bind with proteins that cause the disease.

The top ten health stories of 2011.  Among them: prostate exams could do more harm than good and no link between autism and vaccinations.

A new nursing home law means that patients can go home if they request it.  Here’s a guy that did just that.  Bonus: Technology may make it easier for patients to remain at home.

Thinking about genetic testing?  Some things to think about: your family history, the and benefits and drawbacks of testing.

A new study says that for profit nursing homes skip on quality care.  They staff fewer nurses, which according to the report, means worse care.

Men & cancer, exercise is the cure, early retirees, dead doctors, and MRI scans

Most obvious study of the week: Even though they get cancer it more often, men don’t like to get tested for cancer.

The single best thing that you can do for your health: exercise.  This is a great video that summarizes the issue in a fun way.

The early retiree fund, which was designed to help early retirees fund health care costs before they reach Medicare age, has run out of money.  It will stop taking claims after December 31.

How doctors die.  This is a must-read piece about how physicians make end-of-life decisions when they’re given the choice.  Here’s a similar discussion by the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens about the phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger.”

MRI scans are getting better at predicting brain declines in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.

Being thin, cancer, Medicaid cuts, ER bills, and Medicare savings

Is it better to be thin or fit?  Apparently both, however, being fit comes first.

Breast cancer and radiation: a new study shows that traditional radiation (compared to “faster” treatment), might be better. (Bonus link: Breast cancer screening may do more harm than good.)

Florida is cutting Medicaid, but the Obama administration is fighting back.  The current plan calls for cuts to hospital reimbursements.

What happens if an ER doctor bills you for what insurance doesn’t pay?  The video gives tips for negotiating charges.

According to USA today, Medicare recipients saved over $1.5 billion last year due to the health reform closure of the Medicare “doughnut hole.”

Picking a doctor, decoding your bill, caring for your parents, pap smears, and Medicare changes

Looking for a doctor for your aging parent?  The most interesting points: listening skills, reachability, thorough checkups and big-picture explanations.

Decoding your hospital bill: how insurance requirements change the way doctors document the visit.

The problem of caring from your parents: by the time you’re getting better at it, you no longer need to do it.

Don’t want any more pap smears?  A new study says that women over 65 don’t benefit very much from the test.

Medicare is making it less profitable for hospitals to offer heart and knee/hip procedures.  How will that impact you? Be ready for a wait period before being “cleared” for surgery.  (Bonus: Dr. Wes of calls it rationing.)

Test Drive a Community Using their Guest Room

I’ve seen retirement communities all over the country, but I never really got a chance to stay in one until my last year on the job.  Our client was trying to save money, and they asked that my company’s consultants stay in their guest rooms rather than a local hotel.

Almost all retirement communities have at least one guest room.  These furnished apartments are usually located adjacent to actual residents and offer the same amenities that any other apartment might offer.  These apartments serve as guest room rentals for residents that have guests who stay overnight. 

Although it’s not common, some communities will advertise their guest room as an enticement to potential residents.  Even if they don’t, you can ask to “test drive” the community by staying in one of the guest rooms.  I highly recommend it; my one visit to a retirement community where I stayed in the guest room proved enlightening.

For one, I learned the sorts of sounds that the building made at night.  I made peace with the air conditioning and its cycles.  I also noticed that the streetlight next to my window was unbearably bright.  I ended up hanging a towel over the blinds.

By staying in the apartment, I also got to sample the breakfast menu and meet some of the residents.  I saw the housekeeping staff and introduced myself.  I also learned how to turn the shower knob to just the right temperature.  I also learned whom to call when I had problems with my apartment.

My visit was relatively pleasant, but my colleagues shared different stories.  The worst that I recall was a woman who awoke with what appeared to be bed bug bites after staying in one guest room.  On the other hand, another colleague spend an entire year living on assignment in a retirement community without incident.  

There’s no better way to get to know a community than spending time there. Especially for communities that already have a guest room in service, letting potential residents stay the night is an excellent way to advertise the benefits of retirement living!

Medicare facts, a 60-yr-old computer coder, anorezia of aging, heartburn & heart failure

What Boomers should know about Medicare.  My favorites: Medicare doesn’t cover everything, but it covers more than you think.  Entire article is worth reading.

A 60-year-old computer coder named Jill Campbell has created an app that notifies emergency crews and your friends in the event that you get attacked or have an accident.

What is “anorexia of aging”? It’s the unintended weight loss associated with age-related physical changes and depression.  It impacts over 60% of long-term care residents over 65.

Home remedies for heartburn.  Among them: baking soda, chewing gum and aloe.

A new study has found that heart failure patients would rather live longer than live better.  Take-away: talk to your loved ones about your wishes before you go into the hospital.

How to Score Free Stuff at Retirement Communities

I recently listened to a Planet Money interview with former Harvard professor Gary Loveman, who is now the CEO of Caesar’s Casino in Las Vegas.  Although the interview covers a number of different topics, there was something he said about getting “perks” that I found applicable to seniors housing.

In Loveman’s casino, the cost of providing benefits to consumers varies.  For instance, giving visitors a free meal at the casino’s five-star restaurant costs almost as much as the meal itself, but giving a free hotel room for the night costs a fraction of the price that most guests pay.  In other words, consumers are much more likely to get free services if those services are inexpensive for the hotel to provide.

In senior housing, there are a number of incentive programs designed to get seniors in the door.  These include free rent, apartment upgrades, and others.  As the economy worsens, these deals are likely to get even sweeter. If you’re in the market for an apartment at a senior housing community, consider some of the other benefits that you might be able to negotiate into your move-in cost:

Meals.  Sort of like how it’s cheaper to cook for a family than it is to cook for one person, it’s much cheaper for senior living communities to make your breakfast, lunch and dinner, than it is for you to make it yourself.  For instance, while it might cost you $10 to prepare a nice meal (not to mention cleaning the kitchen afterwards), it probably only costs the community about $4 to make the exact same thing.

Covered parking. In most communities, half of the parking spaces are already covered.  They typically charge an extra $35 to $40 a month for you to park in these spots, with the uncovered ones being “included” with your rent.  Since it costs the community almost nothing to provide this service, communities are likely to provide several months or even a year of free covered parking in an effort to get someone to sign a contract.

Linen service or washer/dryer.  Most communities offer some sort of laundry or linen service, but they often charge service beyond the basic once a month cleaning.  Also, some older communities do not offer washer and dryers as standard amenities in their apartments.  Depending on the community, you might be able to negotiate either an apartment that has been renovated to include the hookups or additional laundry service as part of your rent.

For new communities, consider asking for upgrades like free customized closets, stainless steel appliances, or a customized office space.  In these situations, there are already contractors on site.  Therefore, the cost of adding these amenities is very low.  If nothing else, you might be able to get a discount on these amenities.

During the negotiations, your main goal should be to find a product or service that would mean quite a bit to you and that they can provide at low cost to them.  You may not always be able to get them to agree to provide the benefit, but it can’t hurt to try.  Additionally, in this economy, most providers will do whatever they can to fill their apartments.  They want you to move in, and most will do what it takes to seal the deal.