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One of the most difficult diseases for families to accept is Alzheimer’s Disease. It is also common enough to wreak havoc on the best of financial situations if denial is present.
Having experienced it first hand with my Grandmother, I’d like to share an exceptional book that will guide you through the maze. Additionally, some pointers learned the hard way. The book is titled, “The 36 Hour Day”, authored by Nancy L. Mace MA and Peter V. Rabins, MD.
Some pointers (learned the hard way, in my own experience):
If behavior becomes odd- repetitive communication, name confusion (in our case, Grandma would answer the phone, “hi, LyLauriSu”- a combination of all of our names) start paying attention. Alzheimer’s creates a “void” in the memory bank. Just imagine a space in your brain that is suddenly blank. Nothing there when called upon to remember. For an interesting view, please link to: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_4719.asp
Purchase the book to have all aspects of the disease illustrated. The purpose of this blog is to assist you with the real estate end of this devastating disease. If you REMOTELY SUSPECT that your loved one is dealing with this affliction, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making sure that you are in possession of a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY. This document CANNOT be procured once the victim is unaware of the implications, so act early. What many people do not understand is that a simple power of attorney is void if the individual is deemed “incompetent” with respect to decisions being made on their behalf. A durable power of attorney permits you to assist them regardless of their mental capacity.
HERE IS WHAT OCCURRED WITH MY OUT OF STATE GRANDMOTHER:
Because of the insidious gradual nature of the disease, while things seemed odd, she was able to “fool” us for a time. Unaware of her day to day, the phone calls (while occasionally alarming) were often enough normal that we delayed action. Unbeknownst to us, the predators were in full swing in her daily life. Her “lawn guy” discovered that if he brought a full bag of leaves to the door, she’d pay him. He figured out that whatever afflicted her, he could bring the same bag to her door several times a day, and she would pay him again and again. Terminix, the pest control company, was employed by her to rid her of pests. The individual employed at the company (I’ll never forget his name on all of those checks- Robert Auvil) returned several times a week, and informed her that she still had “snakes in the crawl space”. At 400-800.00 a pop, he had the checks made out to himself, several times a month. Her banker became alarmed when she appeared at the bank to withdraw a large amount of money for new siding on her house- he was aware that just a few short years earlier, she’d had the house sided. Unable to stop her, it was re-sided.
All the while, the alarm increased as she repeated, over and over again, that it was sweltering hot, and that Readers Digest was going to be arriving any minute with the Grand Prize. Day after day.
The end result was to put her in an environment that created safety. For most families, this is the most difficult decision- after all, if her memory was leaving, pulling her out of her home would surely create further damage, wouldn’t it? We were absolutely shocked when she not only forgot all about “home”, but embraced the new living environment. Shocked.
WE DID NOT HAVE A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY. In order to provide her with the best care, her house needed to be sold, and the proceeds put into an account for her care. Without the durable power of attorney, control over the sale price, and the proceeds, fell to the state of Virginia.
While this in and of itself was not impossible to work with, what was enormously stressful for my mother was working with the time line. The government is not known for speed. Documentation, court appearances, the sale of personal items via auction (all proceeds recorded and reported) and the ultimate sale of the house went from simple to extraordinarily complicated. All the while, Grandma was safely ensconced in her new environment, but the bills were piling up.
For the families going through the difficulty of the disease, the hours spent dealing with the system in place adds enormous stress to an already heartbreaking situation. It’s not necessary to go through the legal aspects if you get a durable power of attorney early enough in the progress of the disease. For anyone in this situation, my heart goes out to you. You’ll get through it, and have some surprises with your loved one that you never expected- I don’t recall ever laughing with Grandma as hard as I did during one of my last visits to her house. She was hilarious, despite the disease, and enjoyed roaring with laughter.
IF YOU SUSPECT THAT A FAMILY MEMBER IS IN THE EARLIEST STAGES OF THIS DISEASE, GET A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY IMMEDIATELY. IF YOU FIND YOURSELF WONDERING IF THIS MIGHT EVER AFFECT YOU, PROVIDE A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY TO A TRUSTED FAMILY MEMBER. Speak with your attorney to assist you with the decision. Some available resource links:
Real estate is often the source of funds for future care. Don’t find yourself at the mercy of a state entity to make decisions that you would be able to resolve with integrity yourself. Having the benefit of fast action, if necessary, is paramount for the safety of your family member.
****This is not to be construed as legal advice. This is a real life situation that became complicated due to ignorance of the disease, and available options. Talk with your family lawyer about preventative solutions.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.