Suzanne is joined by Rebecca Bomann, CEO and founder of SASH Services, to provide encouragement, guidance, and tips for families selling the senior home of a loved one.
First: get your legal paperwork in order. Rebecca says, “We can’t emphasize it enough. People do not want to have these conversations, because it means that there’s gonna come a time when you’re very competent, bright, active, athletic, very sharp mom or dad can’t make decisions for themselves anymore. Nobody wants to imagine that possibility. But when families don’t get those documents in place, then they get caught in crises where somebody needs to be making the decisions and no one has the authority to do so.
“I’m working with a family right now where the son lives out of state. Mom was declining, he had her power of attorney ready, he sent it to me in an email. We got it recorded with the county. He was able to sign papers for his mom two days later to get her house sold. There was no scramble, there was no stress, and we were able to begin and get funds in for her care immediately. Contrast that with another client I took care of this year, where there wasn’t a power of attorney. His wife is on the house’s title, but she never signed a power of attorney over to her husband, and now had dementia. He couldn’t sell his home because no one could sign for her, and he had to go through three months of a legal conservatorship through the court just to sell his own home. So, that’s the difference between having those papers prepared and not.”
Second: “If mom or Dad are going to be in the home while the house is getting ready for sale, choose professionals to come in and help your family through this journey who are experienced and understand the delicacy of talking to someone who has advancing dementia or Alzheimer’s. You don’t want someone just barreling in, just because they have a real estate license, and talking about things that are going to cause anxiety and send the person with dementia into a disorientation, into an emotional tailspin, confusing them. This needs a very delicate touch, and it requires experience, empathy, and knowing how to navigate around those big decisions while mom or dad are there, and how to take the important things out of earshot or out of sight. I helped a couple recently, and I knew that she would forget who I was after our visit. I’d visit again and talk to her husband, and she would introduce herself to me over and over on each successive visit, even though we saw each other 30 or 40 times over the course of a few months. I just gently said hello, it’s great to see you. How is your day going? I just smiled, brought a smile to her face. I didn’t try to make her remember me. I’m just there to help her feel comfortable and at ease.
“For families that are choosing a real estate agent, vet them offsite first. Meet at a Starbucks or a local restaurant, have coffee, talk to them, ask them what is your philosophy of caring for people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Find out how they talk about it, see how their inner-personal skills are, before bringing them into the home where mom or dad is, and see you know how they act around those topics. Also, ask about their experience, how many times have they been involved with a situation like this, and find out if they’re experienced. Other elder care providers might be able to give a reference to the real estate agent that is sensitive to that.”
Learn more at SASH Services or call 888-400-7274. Also check out SASH’s resources at AFE’s website.
View Episode Transcript
*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Welcome to the Answers for Elders Radio show. Meet the trusted experts who will give you straight answers and will help guide you on the path of later life care. Now here’s your host, founder, caregiver and CEO, Suzanne Newman. – And welcome back everyone to Answers for Elders. And I am here again with Rebecca Bomann from SASH Senior Home Sales Services, SASH Services, whatever you want to call it. I know SASH realtory, but um it SASH stands for sell a Senior’s home. And the beauty of what I love about what SASH does is that, Rebecca, you have devoted your entire career into making things easy for our older adults. And certainly obviously UM this is a big issue with Alzheimer’s and dementia because it does require a lot of paperwork, a lot of legal documents, a lot of different things like that at and UM, this is a good topic to talk about. So I’m glad so you’ve got some tips for us. I do and I work with families on a monthly basis who are in the middle of this situation. Monthly, there’s no month that goes by. I don’t have at least a few families that I’m serving right now where there’s powers of attorney and there’s someone with dimension the family. And so I’m bringing these tips from the trenches. We’re we’re talking about real stuff here. So the thing we wanted to start with, Suzanne, and I know you’ve talked about this on your show and other segments, is how important it is to get the legal paperwork in place for a power of attorney for your senior loved one. And people do not want to have these conversations because it means that there’s gonna come a time when you’re very competent, bright, active athletic, you know, very sharp, mom or dad make decisions for themselves anymore, and they don’t want to think about that time. Nobody wants to imagine that that’s a possibility. But when families don’t do it, when they don’t take the time to be proactive and get those documents in place, then they get caught in crises where they somebody needs to be making the decisions and no one has the authority to do so. And so we just encourage families. You don’t have to be a senior to need a power of attorney. You can get one when you’re eighteen, when you’re thirty, when you’re forty five, when you’re fifty five, who’s your power of attorney? Have it done? Have it done right? And so you had some things you wanted to talk about as well with how to choose that person to help you with their paperwork. And absolutely true, because um, you know, I get a lot of times families come to me and oh, they go, oh, yeah, we have our attorney and I go, oh, really, yeah, we downloaded it off the internet. Well we uh that is not your best friends. There’s so many you know, is this is a what to understand the difference between a power of attorney that comes off the internet and and and really every senior situation is different. Every assets are different, their their emotional mental capacity is different. Um, the family dynamics are different, all of the different things that has to happen. And to have just something some form that comes down off the internet, it’s not a um it’s like taking an aspirin when you really need you know, yeah, it’s not it’s not gonna necessarily be the best tool for a family. And you know, and people will say, well, I don’t want to spend money and go to an attorney. It will probably cost you more money by not having a proper exactly, and the time and anguish that you’re going to go through if you don’t have the proper documentation is huge. And so this is spelled out very Eve’s exactly what you’re saying is that maybe you have three adult children. Maybe there’s three adult children. One is the first power of attorney. If they’re not able, there’s a successor power of attorney. If they’re not able, there’s a third power of attorney. Those downloadable p o a s from the internet are not gonna accommodate that. Also, is it effective immediately or is it effective only upon a doctor’s letter of incompetency. Those are a distinction that folks don’t think about. And also a power of attorney for medical and then a different set of language for financial power of attorney. And so you just want to make sure it’s done right. It can be a few hundred dollars, you know, with an affordable attorney nearby, and it’s so worth it. I’m working with a Emily right now where the sun lives out of state. Mom was declining he had her power of attorney ready. He sent it to me in an email. We got it recorded with the county. He was able to sign papers for his mom two days later to get her house sold. There was no scramble, there was no stress um, and we were able to begin and get funds in in for her care immediately. Contrast that with another client I took care of this year, where there wasn’t a power of attorney. His wife is on title, but she never signed a power of attorney over to her husband. He couldn’t sell his home because no one could sign for her, and he had to go through three months of a legal conservatorship through the court just to sell his own home. So that’s the difference between having those papers prepared and not um. And so that’s our first tip is if you haven’t got it done, do it. Have the hard conversation with mom or dad and say listen, we cannot wait for this, we need to do this now. We’ll tuck it away, get it notarized, make multiple copies, put it in a safe place. You’ll be so glad that you did, absolutely, absolutely, you know that’s that’s a huge, huge thing, and it’s a peace of mind for the that person to know what the expectations are of them, when they expect when they accept to say yes, I’ll be your power of attorney. It’s like I just had somebody come to me and said I would like a friend of mine and but to be my power executor when I die. But I Sudan, I want you to help him. Would you be willing to? And right away I went yes. But I had some stipulations. I go, you know, between this person who’s going to have the last say, right, I want to make sure that that this is somebody I don’t know, So you need to tell us who you want to have the last say you want. And so those are some things you know, even in the whole thing of a house sale with an executor, I would would assume that that applies as well. Exactly it really does, and so get your legal paperwork in order. We can’t emphasize it enough. The next tip we want to talk about if mom or Dad are going to be present and involved with all of the steps ahead. And when I say involved, I don’t mean they’re going to be part of the decision making, but they’re going to be in the home still, They’re gonna be in the living room, they’re going to be in the dining room. Choose professionals to come in and help your family through this journey who are experienced and understand the delicacy of talking to someone who has advancing dementia or Alzheimer’s. You don’t want someone just barreling in just because they have a real estate license and talking about things that are going to cause anxiety and send the person with dementia into with disorientation, into an emotional tailspin, confusing them. This is a very delicate touch, and it requires experience. It requires empathy and knowing how to navigate around those big decisions while mom or Dad are there, and how to take the important things out of earshot or out of sight. And you know, what you’re saying is so important because um, you know, I see often. You know. That’s probably one of my big bug a boost with the real estate industry because they give a special Senior Real real Estate Specialist UM certification, but they don’t teach realtors any of this stuff. This is where I get frustrated. Just because somebody has that title s r e S it doesn’t mean in my world, doesn’t mean squat, it doesn’t mean anything because The most important piece is that emotional understanding, that of where that person is at. Understanding how to communicate the communication process is the biggest piece, absolutely critical, And I took that s R S class, Suzanne. I sat through the whole thing sixteen hours. And they don’t teach how to work with homeowners who have advancing dementia Alzheimer’s, and so for families that are choosing a real estate agent, a couple of tips. You can actually vet them off site. First, meet at a Starbucks or a local restaurant, have coffee, talk to them, Ask them what is your philosophy of caring for people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Find out how they talk about it, See how their inner personal skills are before bringing them into the home where mom or dad is, and see you know how they act around those topics. Also, say what is your experience? How many times have you been involved with the situation like this, and find out if they’re experienced and other elder care providers might be able to give a reference to those the real estate agent that is sensitive to that. I helped a couple recently who she I knew he was her caregiver. She had to mention, and I knew that every time we sat in the living room together, she would forget who I was after our visit, and I’d go back and visit again and talk to her husband, and she would introduce herself to me over and over on each other visit, even though we saw each other thirty or forty times over the course of a few months. I just gently said hello, it’s great to see you. How is your day going. I just smiled, brought a smile to her face. I didn’t try to make her remember me. You know, I’m just there to help her feel comfortable and at ease. You’re there in the moment, and that’s the thing I think that to really understand to work with a realtor like that, they have to understand and where the mind is. You know, what what’s going on, and that it’s going to be different the next time you show up. So um, I love that you’re bringing this up. Yeah, and and having the sensitivity also that the realtor shouldn’t be coming in and putting a long to do list on the shoulders of the caregiver because the caregiver already has a twenty four hour job. The realtors shouldn’t be coming in and saying, all right, by Thursday next week or by the first of next month, let’s have the garage cleaned out, get the outside painted, get the you know, the the driveway pressure washed. They should instead say I’m here to help you. I have resources, You have an important job and your hands are full. Um, let me support you. I’ll bring in this, I’ll arrange that, I’ll coordinate this. And this is what, of course SASH does is we come in and we bring those resources so they don’t have that long to do list. I am thrilled that we’re talking about this more and I bet you have more tips coming. I do all right, we’ll be right back right after this. – We at Answers for Elders thank you for listening. 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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.
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