We all have a story of our aging parents. To be a baby boomer today, is to face our own mortality as we navigate our relationships with our adult children and aging parents.
Boomers, as a whole, are criticized for selfish behavior and self-absorbed character. We weren’t dubbed the “me generation” for naught.
Yet, my purpose is to share what it’s like to cope with aging parents. It’s a journey no generation before has quite mastered, as our parents are not only living longer lives, our culture is now affixed to a quality of life that didn’t quite exist previous.
When it comes to our parents’ home, that’s a doozy in itself.
How long are they able to live by themselves? Perhaps a spouse has passed and mom now lives alone. Up until recent, she’s been doing fairly well and able to care for herself. Her cognitive behaviors, however, have waned and she seems a bit more confused about her daily routine. Maybe she forgets to take all her medication or no longer uses the microwave for those meals that were once easy to prepare.
When to step in?
There are no exact timetables. Families, while a blessing, are a human bunch. The chasm lies within certain family members, who may love one another, though have different thoughts about what to do with the living situation of mom, dad or both parents. One might be adamant to step in and tell dad he must start pondering the thought of moving out of his home. The happened years ago with my dad-in-law. My husband (at the time) told his father, “I’d rather live with your anger dad, than live with the guilt if something were to happen at home and you get hurt.”
The decisions are dynamic.
Selling an aging parents home is not a slam-dunk reaction or resolution. Unlike younger generations thinking of selling a home, seniors need extra time, patience, encouragement, education and above all, empathetic care and concern for what it’s like for the senior. The process varies for all. It’s important to recognize this, as the options may be more than one realizes.
- Keep mom and dad in their house and age in place. Install grab bars in baths, bathrooms. Remove small area rugs and make sure they have a way to alert an ambulance at a moments notice.
- If aging in place, consider some in-home care. Have someone come a few days a week to look after mom. Have a caregiver cook meals, take her to the doctor, be a caring companion while you’re busy living your own life.
- Consider leasing dad’s house, as the asset can be used for assisted living or board and care living.
- Sell the home.
We, as families, are going through our own specific journeys. I want to hear the whole story. Not to gain detailed and needless information, rather, to understand the bigger picture; who your family is, how they relate to each other, how their specific roles intertwine with their parent(s). It is then I’m able to serve my greatest capacity.
To you and your aging parents, I applaud your efforts to care for one another. Take deep breaths and know you’re not alone.
There are many times in this business I am the fortunate one.
One can learn a lot more from a client than any formative real estate class. Want to learn more about Alzheimer’s? Work with clients who must cope with their parents who live with 24/7 at home care, while dealing with an aging mom who is losing her ability to recognize her children. Wonder what it’s like to care for aging parents when living thousands of miles away? Or, how does one pay for the extraordinary cost of home health care? These questions are becoming too common in the realm of advocacy in selling real estate for seniors and their families.
First thing, first: selling doesn’t always need be an only option. Consider leasing your loved one’s home.
Second: resources exist. Whatever county you live in, google senior home health care, senior resources or senior services. Some counties offer more resources than others. If you’re not able to find help in the county you live in, look at nearby counties.
Here, I share a recent example of what it’s like to be in a seller’s shoes.
Not all sellers are alike. Not all real estate agents are alike. Sometimes they connect, sometimes not. With Doug and Ellen and sister, Nancie, our professional bond focuses on one thing: their parents. Living with 24 hour care in their home, mom has Alzheimer’s. Dad’s around too. The adult kids needed to sell mom and dad’s rental homes in Orange to help offset the cost of 24 hour home health care. Three years ago, we sold one home. Just last month, the other. A privilege to be a part of their story.
The stories continue. I am the fortunate one.
I am but one Realtor living in California. No fancy schmancy car, shiny website or major top producing agent, what I DO offer my clients are as such: care, compassion knowledge and an attentive ear. When I first began helping seniors, these characteristics seemed plausible enough: what Realtor DOESN’T care for their clients’ best interest? Yet this past summer, my compassion exceeded expectations far higher than ever experienced before.
The story goes like this:
- Mid-March I receive an email from a woman inquiring about the possibility of selling her parents’ rental homes. *Mary lives out-of-state and was given my brochure touring a local assisted living residence while visiting her parents.
- From March until June, Mary and I correspond via email only. The key to her story: mom and dad reside in their own home with 24/7 care, as mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing. Mary and her brother, *Joe, make the decision to sell one of two rental homes in the same city so as to have enough funds to keep their parents in their own home as long as possible.
- Tenant who resides in the rental house been living at property over fifteen years. Interested in purchasing the house.
- Mid-June, three months after our first email, along with my brokers Bob and Kathy, Mary, Joe, Joe’s wife and I finally meet in person at a local coffee shop to discuss specific details on listing the rental house.
- Upon initial visit, we all proceed to rental house where we meet with tenant. For the first time, tenant meets Mary and Joe in person. Prior to this, Mary and Joe’s parents had been the main contact for the tenant.
- Tenant qualifies for loan and escrow opens shortly after Mary and Joe head back to their respective homes.
- During escrow, I remain in contact with Joe, the primary trustee, who had transferred his parents’ trust in his name during our initial meeting.
- Thirty-plus days later, escrow closes.
I don’t work alone. All parties rallied together to make this transaction happen. Seller, buyer, Realtor, broker, escrow officers, title rep, et al. Seller, though dealing with the complexities of Alzheimer’s and parents far away, is now able to breathe a little more easily, knowing he can afford the care needed to keep them home until further notice. Buyer, once a former tenant living in the same house purchased, is now a bona fide homeowner. Together, they formed a partnership based on principle, similar goals and a willingness to put their trust in a local real estate chick. That real estate chick never once forgot who was most important in all of this: mom and dad. They are to be commended for the wonderful son and daughter they raised. They are what this is all about. To them, I salute you. Alzheimer’s diminishes the brain, though the love is only a heartbeat away.
Still have that pocket watch Uncle John gave you on your seventh birthday? Convinced that circus painting you bought at the flea market must be worth same as your Prius?
On Saturday April 12th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Kirkwood in Orange will host “Cherish an Antique Day”!
Come and share your family antiques and discover the stories behind them. Bring up to two items and have a free appraisal from Mr. K’s Estate Sales. Enjoy complimentary refreshments and musical entertainment too!
Where: Kirkwood Assisted Living 1525 E. Taft Avenue Orange CA 92865
When: Saturday April 12th, 2014
Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
To RSVP or more info: 714.262.4737
Begin where it matters: your parents needs.
Having dealt with the difficult decision of whether or not to move my dad-in-law from his home, aside from the question of when, eventually the decision was based on what was best for dad more than any other reason. After he’d fallen once, several months before moving out, this was a great indicator of concerns to come. Granted, dad had dementia. It had progressed and his needs were more pronounced than seniors who show no signs of memory issues. This in mind, and in my experience with dad as well as other clients I’ve helped, here are questions to consider before making the decision of moving mom and/or dad from their home to an alternate senior residence, such as independent senior apartments or assisted living.
- Has your loved one been assessed by a geriatric doctor, someone who specializes in dementia? What was the outcome? Was a driver’s license in question or taken away?
- Does your loved one live alone or with someone else? If living with someone, is that person able to care for your loved one or do they too, need assistance from time to time?
- What is the condition of the home? Is it safe? Can your loved one cook? Should they be near a kitchen stove or do they forget to turn it off after using? Are there ample grab bars throughout the home? How much is your loved one able to care for him or herself without assistance of any kind?
- What are your financial options? What kinds of financial resources do you or your family have? What resources can you use to care for your parent(s) if you should decide they remain home or move?
- How are they socially? Do they enjoy the company of others, activities or would they perhaps be more comfortable in a living environment with less stimulus?
- What are the current rental prices in your neighborhood? Could your parent(s) move, keep the house and use rental income to cover part of the cost for assisted living? Should they consider selling at all?
I know there’s a lot to think about. And no two people or circumstances are alike. Dementia is an umbrella term; there are many types, some more progressive than others. With dad, he plateaued a long time – very few serious signs emerged for several years. Nonetheless, keeping in tune with his behavior, spending time doing activities, going places, sharing life with him helped understand and see when those serious signs appeared. In the meantime, we were able to do the research and gain information necessary for when the day came he needed to move out of his house.
Before making the important decision whether or not to sell your parents’ house while dealing with dementia, my hope is you seek the help you need. Please use the resources available to you, be it Alzheimer’s Association or other community resources in the particular county you live in. Look for various senior resources above in the menu under the title called “Senior Real Estate: Advocacy”. And I’m always available to help. Contact me anytime. Know that you need not make difficult decisions by yourself. Your parents are in caring hands.
Hey all! Time again for Orange Senior Center’s annual fall rummage sale! Twice a year, Rita and Company host a array of goodness, including, clothing, handbags, kitchen items, small furniture, jewelry, holiday things and many fun tchotchkes! As always, every single dollar goes right back into the Orange Senior Center, where seniors love to dance, gather with friends, play bingo with aplomb and partake in our local community events. Hope you can join us either Friday, Saturday or both days!
Orange Senior Center is at
170 S. Olive
Orange CA 92866
Friday Oct. 18th – 8:00am to 1:00pm
Saturday Oct. 19th – 8:00am to 1:00pm