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Case Study #2: Engaged at 80

Laurie Turner April 1, 2024

Here’s an example of a client, Carol, who did everything right with her Housing Plan.  Widowed during covid, she asked herself all the right questions.  Looked at her situation clearly and honestly.  She made the decisions she wanted to make for herself and as a result, she’s living where she chose to live, has started a new chapter in her life, and just got engaged at age 80.

Her dear late husband Jason had Alzheimer’s.  Caring for Jason alone at home eventually became more than she could safely handle and made the difficult decision to place him in a memory care facility.  Unfortunately, the Covid lockdown was issued shortly after his placement and she was unable to visit again before he passed.  I can’t imagine the pain she must have gone through.  After taking time to grieve and take stock of her situation she decided it was time to sell her home and downsize.  But where to move?  She hadn’t quite answered that question yet.

After we met with her to chart a home search, we began showing her condominiums in the area, as much to educate her about available inventory and pricing as to help her decide if condo living was right for her.  After coming close to making an offer a few times, she did some soul searching and decided that she didn’t want to have to move twice; once into a condo and eventually into a senior living community.  Even though she was mentally and physically capable of independent living she decided to move into a local senior living community.  As she said, “I’d rather move in too early than too late.”  And she would only need to go through the hassle of moving once.

With the logical decisions made we switched gears toward selling the house, and that’s where the emotions started to take over, clouding her judgement and making her question her decisions.  In our experience it’s not uncommon for even the most logical, steady, business-like individuals to second guess themselves once the consequences of the decisions start becoming a reality, and Carol, a long-time financial analyst and corporate CFO, was no different.

With a stiff upper lip, she reaffirmed her decisions and prepared to get the house ready for market but every step brought more heartache.  Clearing out closets with Jason’s clothes.  Taking down personal photos.  Boxing up mementos and keepsakes.  Deciding what furniture to take to her new apartment.  Everything brought up overwhelming emotions of loss and guilt.  Unrealized guilt for admitting Jason to a memory care facility and never being able to properly say goodbye.  She’d tearfully tell us about calls she’d have with him when he couldn’t remember where he was.  Questioning why she won’t come visit, not understanding anything about the pandemic and the safety measures in place preventing her from visiting.  But knowing he was in the right place, she soldiered on.

Soon enough the house was ready for the market and we were overwhelmed with interest at the first open house.  Within a week we were under contract with a delightful couple, but a few days later their roof inspector insisted the entire roof needed to be replaced.  The roof was only 5 years old and in perfect condition.  They canceled escrow.  Within another week we were under contract again, this time with an adorable family with young children.  Carol loved the idea of finally having children in the house.  But because of the many protected oak trees on the property (several beautiful Live Oaks) the buyers wouldn’t be able to put in a pool in the location or of the size they wanted and canceled escrow.  Each time escrow was canceled Carol was devastated.  She’d put a deposit on her apartment and needed to sell the house to fund the remaining balance, and her move in date was fast approaching.  With each cancelation Carol kept asking herself what’s wrong with my house?  “Are Jason and I the only people who love this house?”

Quickly enough we were back under contract with another young couple, who didn’t want a pool!  Then we got a panicked phone call.   A pipe had burst and flooded much of the first floor.  Carol broke.  She was absolutely distraught.  It was her final straw.  We raced over, turned off the water, found a plumber who would be there within the hour, and had our trusty handyman on his way to inspect the damage.  During the calm after the storm, Carol said, “I’m done with this house!  Jason handled everything related to home maintenance and repair and I don’t want to do it.  Without Jason, and with everything packed away, I’ve been as lonely at night as I have ever been but this is making me realize that without the people and things this is just another house, not my home.  I’m ready to go.  I know I’ve made the right decision.”

The buyers were understanding and cooperative as we worked through the necessary repairs and remediation.  They even asked about purchasing much of the furniture Carol wouldn’t be taking to her apartment.  Carol was all business again.  She had turned the corner and was focusing on her next chapter.   This time we successfully closed escrow.

We keep in touch with all or our past clients, and we’ve enjoyed seeing Carol flourish in her new surroundings.  Best of all, she’s made many new friends.  She’s involved in more activities than she has time for.  There’s a new baby in her old house.  And, as I mentioned at the beginning, Carol was just engaged. 

Carol asked herself all the difficult questions.  Challenged herself to look at her future honestly.  Made decisions based on facts and inevitabilities instead of emotion.  Stayed the course through the tears and difficulties.  And is now reaping the rewards of a well thought out and executed Housing Plan.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, we’re here to have those conversations with dignity and tact.  Contact us at (626) 483-5269 or at [email protected].

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