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Aging population calls for thoughtful planning

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Most of us, sooner or later, will have to make decisions about how we’ll spend the last chapters of our lives. Should we give up the big house for a place in an active adult community? Later, will we know when we require regular assistance?

If not for ourselves, we might have to help our parents with the same choices. And even more families will face such issues as the population ages.

“Absolutely,” said Lynda Stiles, Allen Tate’s new vice president of senior services for the Charlotte area.

Working through Tate’s relocation division, Stiles and other agents will help seniors and their families make such transitions.

She and other agents will direct seniors to communities and facilities that might be appropriate and connect them with services ranging from banking to organizing to moving. There’s no fee for Tate’s help. “The only commitment is that you allow us to sell your house.”

At the top of her to-do list is meeting with Tate agents who might be interested in participating. Serving older clients, she said, requires special skills.

Stiles also has been visiting area facilities, ranging from active adult communities to skilled nursing and assisted living centers. Seeing them first-hand will help her and other agents guide older clients to the facilities that meet their needs.

She anticipates that seniors going into assisted living will account for the largest portion of the clientele. They’re making the biggest transitions.

By comparison, those moving into active adult communities are gaining freedom. They might have to let go of family heirlooms, but they’re also swapping yard work for travel.

Stiles said she has learned what so many families discover: The time to make these choices is before you absolutely must. Learn about options before the need becomes urgent.

“It’s easier to get into a facility if you can walk in,” Stiles said. “It’s better if you do it when you have a choice.”

Parade of Homes

The event kicks off April 12, featuring more than 72 new houses. They’re priced from $175,000 to $1.6 million, and most are furnished.

Parade is the free, self-guided showcase hosted by the Home Builders Association of Charlotte. You can start anywhere, and plan your tour to include models and neighborhoods you’d like to see. Pick up a brochure with map at a participating Harris Teeter store, or visit

Homes will be open Friday-Sunday, April 12-April 28. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays.

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