Moving an Aging Parent from Long-Distance – Part XIV


by Joy Loverde

Whatever happened to Bill the week Mom had gone to Chicago will never be known. Plus the fact that he disclosed to his neighbors that he had fallen (once? twice? three times or more?) is a clue as to just how fragile he really is.

Mary asks my permission to call 911 and of course I say yes. She stays with Bill until the paramedics arrive (instructed to keep the sirens off to help calm the waters). The paramedics conduct an assessment of Bill’s vital signs and are in agreement with Mary that he should go to the hospital immediately. Bill refuses to go. He is scared, confused and yet, not in any shape to remain home alone. After 15-minutes of convincing, Bill finally agrees to let the paramedics take him to the hospital for an evaluation.

In the meantime, Mom has no idea of what she is in for when her flight lands in Florida. Her world has been turned upside down in an instant; with a house to sell and a husband who is no longer competent to sign documents, every decision regarding the move now rests on Mom’s shoulders. What must the reality of becoming a primary caregiver of a spouse who now needs full-time care feel like? I look at this sad situation from the sidelines and ask myself – how can older and physically ailing people justify living far away from family members? The long-distance denial of eventually needing care is an epidemic of enormous proportions.

Knowing that Bill will not be at the airport to pick up Mom, my sisters and I are scrambling for options. Who will pick Mom up at the airport and take her immediately to the hospital? Who will tell Mom what has happened to Bill?

Once again, Sharon, the incredible real estate agent comes to our rescue. She volunteers to pick up Mom from the airport and she will also break the news to Mom that Bill is in the hospital. She will also drive Mom to the hospital, and will drive Mom home and tuck her safely in her bed. Sharon continues to go FAR beyond the call of duty. How can I ever repay Sharon for her kindness and compassion?

Dear reader of this blog, I repeat... the real estate agent is one of the key people in a long-distance move and one of the most critical decisions you will make in this type of eldercare situation. Will this person volunteer to fill in when you can’t? Will he or she treat your parents as their own? Will he or she be a team player keeping you informed and communicating at a high level every step of the way? Will this person go the extra mile for you?

What was going to be a simple process -- selling a house -- has turned into a real-estate agent’s nightmare. Now that Bill is incapable of signing the house-sale documents, closing the deal is now an incredibly complex ordeal. Power-of-attorney papers assigning Mom are the only way to bypass guardian court proceedings. Mom can sign the house-sale papers and it’s a done deal. Or so we think.