13 answers

Moved to Care Facility -- When to Sell House?

Hi there,

I'm wondering if any of you have been in this situation and have some advice for us. My father-in-law has moved into a care facility because he was not able to care for himself any longer. He is 84, we are living out of the country so could not care for him. He seems to have adjusted fairly well, but keeps asking to return home to check up on things and look for objects. He is usually confused and accuses people of taking things and moving things, when no one has been in the home while he is not there. He becomes quite agitated about this.

We are wondering if we sell the house if it would make the problem better or worse? And even if he wasn't insisting on going to the house and searching for things, when do you empty a house and sell it when the owner is still alive but will not be able to return to live there? It seems silly to be paying all of the bills associated with owning a home when no one is living there. But since he is still alive it seems cruel to get rid of all of his things that he can't keep in the assisted living facility and to sell his home. I don't even know how we'd discuss it with him. My husband has the legal right to take control of the house (not sure how to word that) so this isn't a legal question, just not sure what would be best for my father-in-law. Maybe if the house wasn't there he wouldn't worry about his things?

Thanks for any advice!

H.

Thank you so much for your replies so far! To answer a few questions, he has two very dedicated friends who visit often and have taken him back to see his house. He is aware enough to know it's there. Also, he has a very nice, large room at the care facility with his own furniture, paintings, etc. from his home. But his house is still FILLED with things that will no longer use since he's moved out of his home, and he is very attached to his things, understandably!

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Does anyone ever take him back there? If not, I'd say sell it and don't tell him that you did. No need to cause him that upset and stress. You're right, unless money is NO object, not a smart to be paying those bills, taxes, etc. Also, the money from the sale of the house can help fund his care.

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Does anyone ever take him back there? If not, I'd say sell it and don't tell him that you did. No need to cause him that upset and stress. You're right, unless money is NO object, not a smart to be paying those bills, taxes, etc. Also, the money from the sale of the house can help fund his care.

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A stager I worked with did a lot of work for elderly clients. She called it "moving on with style" and one of the things she did, among many, to help seniors move on was to take pictures of all the collectibles, valuables, furniture, anything which could have a memory. She'd sit with the client and get a story on each object. Once everything was documented she'd present the client with an album of all the pieces and their stories so the memories wouldn't be lost and they could "move on".

Then families would divvy up the household items, or do an estate sale, and also sell the home. Consult with a realtor who works with seniors to help you. It's a very tough transition. GL!

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I would put his things into storage for now, and consider renting the house out. It might be easier to explain to him that as long as he isn't in the house, it makes more sense to have someone using it, and that you are getting money from that to help him. Also, storage rental is less expensive than keeping all his things in the house.. and his knowing it's in storage (at least for the time being) gives him the assurance that they are still his things. I don't know your father-in-law's health condition, but 84 is relatively young these days to be in a care facility. I'm wondering too, if there is any possibility that his condition might turn around to the point where he could be able to move back home in a year or so? It just seems to me that a somewhat 'temporary' arrangement for his house and belongings would be better at this time for his peace of mind and any possibility that he might need those things again.

I don't have any good answers, but I watched something very similar happen with my grandmother, and it was awful to see. My heart broke for her. During her better days, she knew what was going on, but on her bad days, she would forget everything about why and where she was, and just keep asking to go home.

I would suggest that you and your husband talk to the medical staff at the facility. They should be able to tell you how much he can comprehend/grasp (as they should have evaluated his mental condition as well as his physcial condition). If they can't tell you/don't know the answer, talk to the FIL's physician about it.

Once you have a better idea what he can grasp, and what he can remember, then I think that will help your husband make the decisions necessary.

I've walked in you shoes a few years back. My dad had Alzheimers and my mom passes shortly after he was diagnosed. I cared for him as long as I could but we had to move him into a private paid Alzheimers unit for his best interest and mine. What ever you decide I don't think I would tell him about your decision. If he is suffering for any dementia problems you couldn't expect him to ever understand and it would just upset and hurt him. It's hard enough for him to adjust to his new living situation. After about a year or so, my sister and I made the hard decision to sell the family home. It was paid off but we where still paying for utilities and the house was just sitting there. We knew dad would never return to it. We had an estate sale after spending several weekends going through papers, and deciding what we wanted to keep. Then sold the house shortly after. We used that money to help care for my dad. I agree it was hard to do since when we did it my dad was still alive but it done with his best interest in mind.
I wish you and your husband the best in this sad situation.
C.

What about taking him to the house and having him select some things from it to bring back with him, with the understanding that whatever is left at the house will be put up for estate sale?

I am assuming he is private pay at whatever facility you have placed him, or private insurance. I am not sure how it is in California, put in PA they can sell your house and take the money for your expenses if you do not have sufficient funds for your facility stay. So if it is the same out there, double check into whether they will eventually claim his house for payment.

If so, then sell now and get the money out of your FIL's name, so they cannot take it. Eventually most incurances run out and the people are left on medical assiatance or medicare, which the facility gets pretty much all of.

I know it sounds bad, but I work in a long term care facility, and there are some people who's houses and property ahve been sold in order to secure fund for their treatment. and once that money runs out, the facility no longer gets money from them, just the reimbursements from the state for their care.

Definitly worth looking into, because it would really suck if you held on to the house and ended up losing it with nothing in return. Maybe have the house transferred into your husbands name while your FIL is still in his right mind and can still legally sign for it?

My Uncle was recently moved to a care facility. He often had those moments of needing to go home. His children chose to wait until he had passed on before trying to sell. That way he could always go back and check on things.

There are several things that you could do know without selling.
1. Yard sale/estate sale some of the stuff.
2. Talk to the mortgage lender, if there is one about a reverse mortgage.
3. Cancel the phone, tv service, etc.
4. Keep the eletricity down to 65 degrees.

For our Aunt who had lived in a different state, we just told her that she was moving in with us, packed her up, put the stuff she wanted to keep in storage and sold the house. 4 years later and she still goes to the storage unit to check on things.

This has got to be one of the saddest and hardest things to go thru - I know, because a similar thing happened to me. My mom was living alone in FL (I live in NY) and after a fall had to go into the hospital and eventually rehab. Because she could no longer live on her own, I had to move her up to NY to an assisted living facility. Her house in FL stayed empty while she was here for almost a year - in her mind, the move to NY was only "temporary" and she always planned to go back, even though we all knew that could never happen. Eventually she decided to put the house in my name, and gave me "permission" to sell it. We emptied it out and kept all of the things she wanted to pass along to us, and put it on the market. She passed away before it was sold, which in a way was a blessing because she knew it was still there, even if she couldn't physically go to it. There are no easy answers here. It sounds as if your father-in-law is perhaps suffering from dementia (at least the paranoia and agitation indicate this might be so). But if he is still cognizant, it certainly would give you and your husband peace of mind to have his agreement on what to do with the house. Try to gently have a talk with him and see how he feels about it - maybe it would help him to have some of his own things with him at the facility, and the rest could be sold or donated. You're right when you say that paying for an empty house just doesn't make any sense. Is there any possibility of renting it until a decision is made about selling? Good luck!

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