Moving an Aging Parent from Long-Distance – Part XIX


by Joy Loverde

With Bill resting comfortably at Signature Healthcare and Mom ever-so-close to realizing her dream of moving back to Chicago, nothing can stop me now. I can’t afford to let one more thing get in the way of this move.  I have been dealing with every family caregiving curve-ball imaginable... hospitalizations and illnesses, negative attitudes and resistance, and home buyers backing out of the deal among other interesting twists and turns.

Managing unexpected issues is the name of the game when it comes to eldercare. If you can’t handle the fact that you will come face-to-face with change on a daily basis you will be in for a rude awakening and an extremely difficult caregiving experiene. Minute-by-minute decisions will have to be made. Get used to the psychological environment of eldercare and it won’t throw you off balance.

Right now I feel like a race horse with a single focus and that is to get Mom and Bill out of Florida as fast as I can. The house will sell whether they live there or not. It takes awhile for Mom to accept this fact but eventually she realizes what I am saying is true. Sharon, the real estate agent also helps me convince Mom that it’s OK to leave.

Getting them packed up will be accomplished by a series of on-site visits by numerous family members. I immediately send emails to everyone (my siblings and Bill’s daughters) and create a schedule of when they plan to “volunteer” to lend a hand. Let me just say that I made no requests regarding these visits. I made statements. “Tell me when you plan to go to Florida to help Mom and Bill pack up.”  I explain in the email that someone must be with them from now until the time they are physically leaving the state. Each person will have a role in this process.  I am in no mood for games, and if they do not step up to the plate I am prepared to hound them. Luckily, there was no resistance.

Dear reader of the blog... the clearer you are in dictating your needs and the needs of your parents, the better tasks will get done according to plan. Be specific when asking for help.

My sister, Linda is the first to arrive in Florida. My goal for Linda is to help Mom go through Bill’s legal documents. Now that Bill is temporarily incapacitated, and cannot sign his name to a legal house-sale document, it will be imperative that Mom produces an original copy stating she is Bill’s power-of-attorney.

Mom swears that Bill made her his power-of-attorney and that the original document is somewhere in the house. If she can’t produce the original, it will greatly complicate matters for them to sell the house.  Power-of-attorney papers assigning Mom are the only way to bypass expensive and complicated guardian court proceedings.

There are several lessons to be learned here at the beginning of the house-sale process:

Number one... if power-of-attorney has not been established head for the lawyer’s office immediately.

Number two... if power-of-attorney has already been established ask to see the ORIGINAL copies of the power-of-attorney documents.  For years, Mom reassured me that legal documents were drawn up and the estate-planning process was complete. In fact, Mom once showed me where the small safe was kept in the event that something happened to them. My mistake was not asking to actually see the documents. Not carrying out that task is now getting the best of me. All along I felt secure that their paperwork was in order. I was wrong.

Linda and Mom look high and low for the original power-of-attorney. It’s nowhere to be found. Linda tells me that Mom is so stressed that she fears her heart will give out. I have to think fast.