Suzanne is joined by Rebecca Bomann, CEO and founder of SASH Services (Sell a Senior Home), to provide tips, guidance, and encouragement for families that may have a concern about the care of a senior loved one who has progressive dementia or Alzheimer’s and can no longer take care of themselves anymore. Their home is usually their biggest asset to pay for round-the-clock care that mom or dad needs.
Families find themselves in an intense situation. The caregiver has to manage mom’s finances, mom’s care — where is she going to move to? What level of care does she need? Doctor’s appointments? And we’ve got this home that she’s lived in for 50 years, it’s full, it hasn’t been ready for market. How in the world are we gonna do this?
Rebecca says, “I’m working with a family right now where their loved one has dementia and it’s $15,000 a month for around-the-clock care in their home. That is a lot of money. Even if you own your home outright, with that expense you can burn through all the equity in your home in just a couple of years. Financially, it doesn’t make sense to stay at home. And then there’s the safety element: The stove is left on, the doors are left open or unlocked, there’s electrical hazards, there’s fall risks. And family members are going and checking on mom every day, and they’re starting to be so frazzled because of the stress of knowing that mom or dad is in an unsafe environment, and they have just reached that point where it’s time to get mom or dad into a place of care. And, well, we’re gonna have to sell the home to pay for it. And this is where they call us.
“We’ve got lots of tips and guidelines that we can get into in our next segment, and we just want to be here for you, give you valuable information, support, and this is all based on my years of experience of doing this day in and day out.”
View Episode Transcript
And welcome everyone to Answers for Elders Radio Network. And we are here with the wonderful Rebecca Bomann from SASH Services. And Rebecca, I am so excited, we’re going to be talking to our listeners today about: if you have a loved one that has Alzheimer’s dementia, you’re dealing with how to negotiate or bring about a sale of a home, in process of trying to figure out how to get them care. There’s all kinds of moving parts, there’s all kinds of different things, and this is Rebecca’s specialty. And I really want to talk to those families that may have a concern about a loved one that has dementia that are still living at home. You’re concerned about them to a certain degree. So Rebecca, I’m so glad you’re here. And this is a very common program, isn’t it?
– It is, thank you for having me, Suzanne, as always. We get calls here at SASH from a lot of families who are looking at the care of their senior loved one who is having progressive dementia or Alzheimer’s, and cognitively they’re not able to take care of themselves anymore. They’re not able to make the financial decisions anymore. They’re on that journey which is really hard to be on for the family. And then, right in the middle of it, they’re trying to figure out: how do we pay for mom or dad’s care? And the home is usually the biggest asset, and the most available, to sell in order to pay for that round-the-clock care that mom or dad need. And so what we find is families find themselves in two intense situations at the same time. We’re the caregiver, we have to manage mom’s finances, mom’s care, where is she going to move to? What level of care does she need? Doctor’s appointments? And, holy cannoli, we’ve got this home that she’s lived in for 50 years, it’s full, it hasn’t been ready for market. How in the world are we gonna do this?
And just this year, Suzanne, I’ve assisted eight families with the sale of their home when there was someone in the family, on title of the home who had dementia or Alzheimer’s, and so you’re absolutely right. It’s very common, and we want to talk about it today. We want to give tips and guidance and encouragement and hopefully your listeners can gather something from our show today where they go, thinking “I’m so glad I listened to that because now I know to do X, Y or Z as I’m navigating this with my family.”
– You know, Rebecca, it’s been even worse after the pandemic. So many seniors that probably should have had care in some way even during quarantine, and they were still in their homes when they really weren’t safe. This is what I’m learning about more and more, how much being isolated has also escalated symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia or things that are going on in the home that you may not realize, like they haven’t cleaned the refrigerator for a year, or they’ve been hoarding things, or they’re not living in a clean environment because they’re not taking care things. They’re not grooming, practicing activities of daily living properly. So they’re not living in a good scenario. And yet there’s this element of fear because “I’ve closed and been living in this bubble. I’m too afraid to go out. I’m too afraid to be more involved in the world.” And that’s been difficult on both the family side, the spouses in the middle of things, oftentimes, with let’s say Dad’s trying to take care of mom the best you can, but Mom’s got dementia, Mom’s not tracking. I mean, I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of that.
– And you’re so right, Suzanne about the pandemic, because a lot of families were separated from their senior loved ones for months. They were quarantining, mom or dad was in another state or another city at home alone, maybe their symptoms were progressing, and nobody really was around them to see and everyone was so afraid of passing COVID from one to another that I think there was a lot of discoveries made as folks began to sort of connect again and see one another again like, “wow, you know, we really need to do something here, and mom isn’t safe at home anymore. Dad isn’t safe at home.” And we recognize that the senior loved ones, especially when they’re suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, they want to stay home. We know they want to stay home. Every family wants to give that to them, right? They want to be in their familiar environment with the rooms they love, the decor they love, the furniture they’re comfortable in, the neighborhood they’re comfortable in.
But there comes that time when it just doesn’t work anymore. Financially, it doesn’t work because, even if you get caregivers in the home to take care of mom or dad — I’m working with a family right now where their loved one has dementia and they have 24-hour caregivers in their home, and Suzanne, it’s $15,000 a month for around-the-clock care in their home. Now, $15,000 a month is a lot of money. And even if you own your home outright, and you’ve paid your home off years ago, you can burn through all the equity in your home in just a couple of years, putting out $15,000 a year. So financially, it doesn’t make sense to stay at home. And then of course there’s the safety element, right? The stove is left on, the doors are left open or unlocked, there’s electrical hazards, there’s fall risks. And family members are going and checking on mom every day, and they’re starting to be so frazzled because of the stress of knowing that Mom’s in an unsafe environment, or Dad’s in an unsafe place, that they just reached that point where it’s time. It’s time to get mom or dad into a place of care. And, well, we’re gonna have to sell the home to pay for it. And this is where they call us. This is where our guidance begins many times, and when I come into a situation where I’m working directly with those powers of attorneys, so we do want to talk directly to these folks today. We want to encourage you, give you guidance, give you tips and support and guidelines for what to do ahead and spend our time this way.
– And you know, I am glad we’re having this conversation because so often it’s like the power of attorney or that person that’s in in charge, they’re also getting a lot of stories from other people in the family. And I think one of the things that everybody that’s listening to this podcast has to understand is that everything is different. You know, everybody’s perspective is different. Their experiences of mom and dad, and dementia is funny, because I’ve seen it, I saw it with my own mother. They can rise to the occasion and act totally normal for a period of time. You say mom and dad can’t live by themselves anymore, and then family goes to the house, and mom or dad just rises up to the occasion, and they are just fine, and then they fall apart after that child has gone. Understand that everybody has a different experience. If you’re not seeing it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. And that’s the thing that I think you’re gonna talk a lot about. Trust the power of attorney, and your job as a sibling is to support whatever that power of attorney believes. And I think that’s really an important part of this conversation, is it not?
– Yes, and I tell families often just because I work with this so much and I see it, is I say, there’s moments of lucidity. This is not an on or off switch that, since it’s off, it’s always off as far as cognitive abilities and memory, there’s moments of lucidity where they’re just like you’re saying, they rise to the occasion, they’re perfectly clear, they’re remembering things, they’re talking clearly, they know what happened yesterday. Then a few hours later, they will have no memory of anything that happened that morning. And one sibling might have one interaction, and the other sibling might have the other interaction, and so I think what you’re saying, and I really agree with you, is give the caregivers the benefit of the doubt, believe them when they say things are starting to slip, and it’s starting to become unsafe and we may need to start making decisions and looking to the next few months of care.
– And that’s the thing I think that’s really important with all of this is as I always say that person was made a power of attorney for a reason. And if your parent or your loved one appointed that person while they were still lucid, it’s because they trusted that person to make those kind of decisions. And I think it’s important that we all understand what our role is. Who’s on first, who’s on second, as somebody says, that first baseman, that pitcher, whoever’s taking care of that person, they’re the ones that need to be supported, and your input is welcomed, I would hope, but also understand that the less that the person who has the last say is the power of attorney.
– And they have a difficult job, hard decisions. They’re being second guessed, they’re being armchair quarterbacked by people. They’re often getting guilt trips from folks.
– They’re being ostracized because people get angry with them if they have to make an unpopular decision. That happened with my family, and we’ve talked about that. You’re in a very difficult scenario when you’re the power of attorney, but you also have the mindset to be able to do that. You know this person, you can advocate for this person, and I think that’s really why I’m excited about talking about this. So, anyway, I’m looking forward to diving into this.
– Yes, we’ve got lots of tips and guidelines that we can get into in our next segment, and we just want to be here for you, give you valuable information, support, and this is all based on my years of experience of doing this day in and day out.
– Well, Rebecca, I can’t wait, and so in the meantime, everyone, Rebecca Bomann and I are going to be right back right after this.
Listen to More Answers for Elders with Suzanne Newman
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.