If you’re getting ready to help a loved one sell the family home in Michigan, don’t dive in unprepared. There’s a minefield of emotional, financial, and legal issues you’ll need to know about before you take that first step. Finding a realtor you can trust is a good place to begin. Finding a senior-friendly realtor may be even better.
What is a ‘Senior-Friendly Realtor’?
You may want to consider hiring a senior-friendly realtor. These are professionals who’ve made it a point to acquire extra training and expertise in working with older adults and their families who are selling the family home.
According to the AARP, a Senior Real Estate Specialist is “…an education-based designation for realtors who can address the needs of home buyers 50 and older”.
The best way to choose a good senior-friendly realtor is to understand what they bring to the table. Here’s what to look for when you’re selling an older adult’s home in Michigan.
Choose a Realtor Who’s Sensitive to Issues Older Adults Face
First, try your best to put yourself in your senior loved one’s shoes. Selling the home you’ve lived in for decades – 50+ years in some cases – is both emotionally difficult and tremendously frightening.
There’s a pretty good chance your loved one will appreciate good service from someone who understands the special concerns that people in their situation face.
Ask anyone of any age who’s sold a home and they’ll tell you: the process itself can be quite grueling. Showings can be particularly stressful for the homeowner, what with having to keep the home looking presentable at all times. It must be spotless and neutral as well as clutter-free. Sometimes the furniture has to be arranged differently to make a more presentable showing.
And here in Michigan, you’ll need to keep up with snow maintenance if you put your home on the market in winter time. That can mean something more to worry about.
A senior-friendly realtor will understand that these conditions are especially stressful and difficult if the homeowner is an older adult. They will customize their marketing and techniques to fit your loved one’s needs.
Look for a Realtor who Understands the Senior Living Market
Many times families start preparing a senior’s house to sell before they have a definite idea on where the older adult will be moving to. Having a realtor who knows the local senior living market can be a real advantage. They may have a network of past clients who can offer objective insight on which communities offer the best care and value to older adults.
Select Someone Who Can Also Help the Caregiver
A good senior-friendly realtor can make this process easier for the older adult and their family. If he or she knows what they’re doing, they’ll immediately understand that this is no ordinary transaction. Everyone involved might have deep-rooted feelings about what’s taking place.
According to data published by the State of Michigan, most seniors prefer to stay in their own homes. That means the decision to sell the home can be fraught with emotion.
And with more family members involved, emotions can run high and conflicts over decisions can develop overnight. A senior-friendly realtor knows how to navigate their way through family conflicts. They can help steer the conversation back to the task at hand: selling the property in a way that satisfies your senior loved one.
Sometimes there are highly complex inter-generational dynamics at play when older adults are selling their long-term home. However, whether you’re a close relative or not, you’re involved in a major life event for the senior you’re caring for. A knowledgeable, senior-friendly realtor is sensitive to all these issues, too.
In the end, your realtor is there to ease the process of selling a senior’s home. It’s a thorny issue for everyone, but a truly ‘senior-friendly’ realtor will ease the stress and guide you and your loved one through the entire process.
Want to know more about issues like this? Subscribe to our blog and stay informed!
If you are a Michigan senior loved one’s primary caregiver, you’ve probably worried about what would happen to them if you suffered an emergency of your own. Because you are involved in their day-to-day care, you likely know their medical history well. You also understand what medications they take and what the schedule is.
But in the event of an emergency, would someone else in the family know what your aging family member needs? What their allergies are? When their next physician appointment is?
Having an emergency caregiver in place before a crisis occurs is the key.
There are two important steps for creating a successful caregiver backup plan. The first part is to carefully craft the plan and the second is to share it with others.
How to Create an Emergency Care Plan for a Senior
Begin by pulling together all of the information someone else would need to be able to care for your senior loved one in the event you are unable to.
At a minimum, your back up plan should include:
- Medical history: Create a complete health file that includes your senior family member’s medical history, past surgeries, current and past medical issues, and any allergies.
- Medication list: Also put together a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications your loved one takes along with the schedule. Be sure you include the prescribing physician and pharmacy name in case the back-up caregivers need to have one refilled.
- Physician list: It’s important to document all of your loved one’s physicians and any other health professionals who are involved in their care. Include their contact information along with the reason your family sees each of them.
- Insurance information: To help prevent your family member from falling victim to identity theft, it’s important to keep insurance documents stored in a secure location. Just make sure back-up caregivers are apprised of where and how to access them in the event of a medical emergency.
- Legal Documents: Also share the location of any legal documents your senior loved one has in place, such as a durable power of attorney or living will, with family members who may be called on to pitch in and help with caregiving duties.
Our final tip is to visit with senior care providers in Michigan and develop a list of those you feel would be a good fit for your aging loved one if you aren’t available to provide care. Include this information in your back-up caregiver plan.
Share Your Caregiver Back-Up Plan
Once you have created your plan, it is important to make sure friends and family are aware of it and comfortable with the information it contains.
Some families have found technology makes it easier to keep everyone on track. CareZone, Prime, CareMind and Caring Bridge are a few easy-to-use apps to explore.
I will be visiting my mom who lives in Muskegon, Michigan next month. One of the items on our “To Do List” is to organize her health information. When I went with her to the doctor during my trip home at Christmas, I realized how important it is to get all of this information organized and in one place. She currently keeps much of it in her purse, which seems like it would put her at risk for identity theft.
Do you have any suggestions that might help me with this process? It feels a little overwhelming.
Sounds like a good goal to set for you and your mom! And you are right to worry that keeping so much personal information in her purse puts your mom at risk for fraud. This is especially true during tax season. Experts believe tax refund fraud will top $21 billion this year.
Here are a few suggestions we have shared before with families who ask for advice on organizing a senior loved one’s medical information:
1. Gather the information: Start by pulling together all of your mother’s important medical papers. Once you have everything in one place, begin to separate the documents by topic. A few category examples might include:
- Copies of health care notes and discharge reports from any hospital stays
- Physician notes from office visits
- Results from any testing and lab work
- Copies of all of the instructions that come with each prescription
- Medicare/Medicaid identification cards and numbers
- Legal documents such as a living will, durable power of attorney, and advance directive
- Copies of all bills and co-pay receipts
2. Develop a medical history: If you haven’t done so already, you will need to create a comprehensive medical history. This should document all health conditions and surgeries along with the date of each occurrence. Be sure to list any allergies and important family medical history.
3. Create a medication list: Keeping an updated medication list is critically important. It should include both prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines. Note the dosage and times each should be taken.
4. Putting it All Together: You will want to create a system that is easy to update. One that often works well for older adults and their family caregivers is to purchase a large, 3-ring binder with dividers and pockets. You can create a section for each category of information. Other families take it a step further and also use a caregiving app. This helps make it easier for you and other family members to access, share and update your mother’s medical information from wherever you are.
5. Safe Storage: As you mentioned in your note to us, seniors are common targets for identity theft. You can help your mom decrease her risk for becoming a victim by safely storing her medical file. Securing the binder in a cabinet or file drawer with a lock is the best way to protect her personal information. Encourage family members who have a copy to do the same.
I have one last suggestion for you, Ryan. When your mom is checking out from each physician visit, remind her to ask for a copy of visit notes. Some providers can give it to her then and others will need to mail it to you after the physician updates her file. Encourage her to add them to her health file as soon as she returns home and to update any changes to her medications the physician made during her visit.
I hope this information is helpful, Ryan. If you have any questions about senior care during your visit with your mom next month, please feel free to call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for answers!
Summertime is vacation time in Michigan. If you are caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s, however, you may think a trip that includes your loved one is impossible. While Alzheimer’s patients often become agitated by changes in their daily routine, many can successfully travel if their caregivers plan ahead and take precautions.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that you evaluate your loved one’s ability to travel based on their needs and the progression of the disease. People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s will be less likely to become distressed than those in the later stages of the disease.
Tips for Traveling with a Senior Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease
If you decide that your senior can safely accompany you on a trip, these tips can help make the excursion enjoyable for all:
Put Your Loved One First: Choose the method of transportation, route and accommodations that will cause your loved one the least amount of stress and anxiety, even if it means more inconvenience and cost to you. Avoid peak travel times and holidays. When flying, choose a direct flight whenever possible. When you must change planes, try to purchase tickets with at least an hour between flights. This will prevent a frenzied rush to board the next plane.
Be Prepared: Medications, snacks and drinks, and a change of clothing should be accessible at all times. A list of prescription information, doctor phone numbers and emergency contacts should be handy, as well. Carry your senior loved one’s insurance card, identification and copies of legal documents. A recent photo can help locate them if they should wander off. There are several cell phone apps that make this easier including CareZone and Unfrazzle.
Plan a Reasonable Itinerary: You might be able to hop from museum to museum or spend the day at an amusement park, but people with dementia can be easily overwhelmed and distressed by days packed with fast-paced activities. Limit the number of activities you do each day. Slowing down and relaxing more can be good for everyone!
Use the Buddy System: Always keep your loved one under direct supervision. Unfamiliar environments increase the likelihood that someone with dementia will wander. If you stay in a hotel, use all the interior door locks to make it more difficult for your loved one to open the door when you are sleeping or showering. You may want to invest in a door alarm or a Medic-Alert necklace or bracelet that would help reunite you in the event they slip out of your sight.
Do Your Research: Before you leave, locate the hospital and urgent care centers nearest your destination. Investigate road construction and detours that might cause stressful delays. You might also contact the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to identify any resources you might need to utilize when you arrive.
Have a Plan B: Have an alternative plan or two in place, just in case your loved one doesn’t respond well to being away from home. This might mean making more frequent rest-stops or checking into a hotel sooner.
Consider Respite Care Services
If your senior with Alzheimer’s cannot travel along with you, consider respite care . Call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you to learn more about a short term stay at one of our Michigan communities. While there really is no vacation from caregiving, thoughtful planning can make a summer trip pleasant for all.