Making the decision to move a parent out of the home can hurt.

A decade ago, at least one part of that transition wasn't so
tough. When the for-sale sign went up, an eager buyer was likely to show up
with a good offer. But today, families are facing a much more difficult real
estate environment.

Home Prices Collapse …

Home prices are down more than 30 percent from their peak in
2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index.

Over the past five years, home prices have plunged by roughly
a third. During that same period, the annual cost of residing in an
assisted-living facility has increased 5.7 percent per year, according to a
recent survey by Genworth, a long-term care insurance provider.

So what should be done with the house? Try selling in a
depressed market? Or rent it until prices perk up? Or would it make more sense
to take out a reverse mortgage and try to stay in the house, using cash from
the transaction to hire more help?

"The market's bad," Frank Christian, 58, of Glen
Allen, Va., says when discussing his family's dilemma about selling the house
he owned along with his mother, Ida Christian, 89. He and his mother are
members of one of three families being profiled in an NPR series, Family Matters: The Money Squeeze. The series
looks at the financial decisions that are being made in multigenerational
households.

For the past three years, Ida, whose Alzheimer's disease is
worsening, has been living with her daughter, Geneva Hunter, 66. To help pay
for her mother's care, Geneva needed her brother Frank to sell the house and
get as much cash as possible to help pay for Ida's care.

Frank is himself a real estate agent. So he knows the value
of living in your own home. But he also knows that a time comes when having a
house is too much for an elderly person. At this point, selling "would
free up money we could use for her overnight care," he said.

The family's situation is common as more people move into
advanced old age. About 6 million Americans are now 85 or older — an age when
homeownership becomes almost impossible for most.

Because of the intense emotions surrounding a home, the
decisions often cause conflicts among siblings. She urges families to
communicate respectfully with each other to determine which options — selling,
renting or getting a reverse mortgage — might make the most sense.

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