Agent warns against “refusal-to-accept-old-age” syndrome.

Western Cape estate agents are increasingly finding themselves up against the “’refusal-to-accept-old-age” syndrome, says Lanice Steward, MD of Cape Town-based Anne Porter Knight Frank.

While some couples from about the age of 55 start planning their old age accommodation, says Steward, others refuse to accept they will inevitably grow old and will need care, possibly on a 24-hour basis.

Steward said that while she could understand people refusing to accept their powers were waning it was in her experience as an estate agent that delaying plans caused endless problems.

“Our company sometimes sit with houses decreased in value because of not being maintained. The client either did not have the necessary cash or lacked the energy and will to care for the home. This results in the house achieving a lower price and the owner having less cash available for any future care he, or she, requires.”

Typically, said Steward, the independent but aging person is a man – and he is convinced that he will be able to stay in his home – or a scaled down version of it – until his death.

“In almost every case”, said Steward, “this just does not work. A really old person may need as many as three nurses every 24 hours – how can this sort of service be provided at a reasonable cost in an ordinary home?”

Already, said Steward, there is a dire shortage of retirement accommodation in the Cape. It is therefore wise, she said, to pay a deposit and reserve a space many years ahead.

“By the time many old people have come round to accepting the need for care they cannot find a place to stay,” she said. ‘’There are now always long waiting lists for retirement centres.”
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