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The housing market stinks worse than a pair of gym sneakers left in the trunk of a car all last summer.  Though you already know that, you may not realize that the elderly in need of care are victims of the market’s stagnation in a way that is often heartbreaking.

I spoke to clients who wanted to pick my brains about ways to help an elderly aunt who owns a modest home.  She is “over 80 and very forgetful”, and as her only relatives, they think Auntie needs to move to assisted living or some other care-giving program where she is not alone.

Aunty’s home is in an area with “20 or more houses for sale by owners or banks”, I was told, and a series of price cuts had yielded very little buyer interest (yes, I confirmed it was the lowest priced house of its kind).  Without the funds from the sale, Aunty could afford to go nowhere but to their home, they thought, and that was not a viable option.

We explored reverse mortgages (they hadn’t heard about such a loan and would investigate) and home health care (Aunty was fearful but the possibility of her starting a fire while cooking was even more scary), and I gave them a few more suggestions that might result in a sale.

Millions of people are saddled by debt and overwhelmed by houses they can’t carry.  But I am discovering that there’s a very anxious if not downright alarmed subset of frail or ill elderly persons who cannot get the assistance they need until they shed their homes.  The market may require a year or two or even three to straighten itself out, but time is not on the side of the geriatric homeowner.

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