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Rooster_Ties

Managing an aging parent's health from 1,000 miles away...

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15 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

So the fact that I have the plans for the house, and also manifest(s) of the goods and materials that went into it's construction, etc. - while not earth-shattering, is still kinda nifty.....

(I only have the blueprints here in DC with me, at the moment).  I'll have to look this week, if I get the chance -- or when I'm back in early October.

Assuming that the buyer of your house won't want to just tear it down and build something new on that site and regardless of what blueprint you want to frame as a keepsake, I guess that the buyers will be very keen to get all the construction paperwork, blueprints, etc. for that house. This will no doubt come in handy whenever they have refurbishing work done on it. So maybe get them a duplicate of what you want to keep (unless what you are keeping are duplicates anyway).
I know I am glad I still have most of that for my own house (which my father - an architect too - designed and built in 1957). It came in handy to be able to give the contractors some plans for preparation when I had extensive work (including updated insulation) done on the roof several years ago.

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BIG UPDATE.  The deed is done!!  My father is moved!! - and 99.9% of everything he wanted to keep is out of his house.  And he's about 80% settled, which is about as much as we could get done in the last 3 days after the moving truck last Wednesday.  His new digs are really working out well, and although not "fancy" -- he does have TONS of space (at least 600 sq-ft, in two big rooms that used to be 2 separate efficiencies that they combined) -- almost more than my wife and I have here in DC (we only have 630 sq-ft here).

After staying with him in his new apartment 3 nights (sofa-bed in his living room, and our own (a 2nd) bathroom off the living room), and having several meals with him there in the community dining room (the food was actually not half bad at all) -- we are even more certain of him being in EXACTLY the best and right place for him.  Nothing fancy, but most of the staff there are just shy of amazing.

The owner/executive-director even helps provide housing for half-a-dozen vets (most Vietnam-era, though one from Afghanistan even) who I understand were in some pretty dire straits immediately prior (at least one that was living out of his car for some time).  Don't know the entire circumstances, but I have a strong suspicion she's (meaning the owner/director) is doing much of that out of the goodness of her own heart (not sure how much, if any, remuneration she's getting -- maybe some, from some support programs, but I'm betting that doesn't cover everything).

She also has a small handful of (just slightly) developmentally challenged folks who work as servers in the dining room, which we also think shows a degree of care and consideration (in terms of hiring folks who probably otherwise couldn't work in the traditional service-industry or public-facing sector).  Multi-racial staff (of all ages, including some younger folks), and multi-racial residents too -- maybe 20% in each of those categories was African American.  I may have mentioned upthread somewhere that a former member of The Ink Spots lived out his last 5-6 years at this facility, and she (the exec-dir) and he used to go out to clubs now and then.  Most of the residents are very working class, but probably a little more (former) white-collar, than blue-collar.  And slightly more men(!) than women, actually.  All a good fit with and for my father.

I can provide a longer update and some pics in a day or two, but that's the gist of it.  The house gets cleared out in a couple weeks, and it goes to auction in early October (which I'm flying back for).  House won't be a windfall (to put it mildly, given the near total lack of updates since the 1960's, and what houses go for in his neighborhood), but in any case -- we'll be past this big life-changing event in less than 30 days.

Did it all in 8 days (plus I was there a week in early August).  But this past week we were gone, felt like 2 weeks minimum.  We never did more than about 7-8 hours of work in any given day, so we were never exhausted ('cept the last half-day we crammed a full day of unpacking in), and we managed to spread it all out pretty evenly, and found time for the local walk-up ice-cream place 3-4 times too, and a couple nice-ish dinners out too.

Back at work now, and I'm not sure I have any idea what it is I used to do here.  Fortunately my boss is out of town until Thursday, and he'll barely be in at all this week -- so I have some time to play catch up.

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55 minutes ago, bresna said:

This sounds great. The hardest thing has to be the worry that you haven't picked the wrong place. You read/hear these horror stories about some places.

Your father's situation sounds a lot like my mother's. We moved her in last week and the word I'm getting from the placement director is that she is one of the happiest people in the place, which is quite a dramatic turn from where she has been in recent months.

Now we have to sell her house which is a daunting task, especially since she's let it run down a bit.

I also have to sell my late father's last two Indian motorcycles, a  rare 1940 Scout & a 1951 Chief (80 ci). These are currently on display in the Springfield Museum. In fact, if you go there, they are on a ledge above the ticket office. If anyone is looking to buy a fully-restored, antique Indian, drop me a PM. :) 

So glad to hear the positive update about your mom, and how she's taking to her new place.  And I'd love to see pictures of your dad's motorcycles, if you could post them here sometime.

While I'm not suggesting that going the auction route (in terms of your mom's house) is definitely the way to go, one thing to consider is that depending on how long she's been in it, there may be some unknown number of things that might not be "up to code" (that you would presumably have to address before it could be sold, or else that might be something you end of paying for in the final dickering over the price, after the buyers have it inspected).  In the case of my father's house, it has literally NEVER been inspected -- since it last changed hands when he bought it from his mother (and I'm sure it wasn't inspected back then in the early 1960's - or the codes were far, FAR less stringent/elaborate back then).

I could probably list 20 things off the top of my head that don't meet code with my Dad's house (though they were all legit back when the work was done 40-50 years ago).  Electrical (including tons of knob-and-tube wiring), door-locks, chimney isn't lined, and several things I have suspicions about (that I won't go into here).  The 'beauty' of selling it at auction, is that it's sold completely "as is" with no warranty about anything.  In fact, we purposely didn't get the house inspected ourselves, because we might then be legally obligated to disclose some of that to potential buyers (even going through the auction process).  But if even we don't know specifically what's technically wrong with the house, then we have nothing to disclose -- it's sold simply "as is".

We're certainly not going to put $10-$15K into it to bring it up to codes (my wild guess as to what it would cost), to say nothing of the $35K you could easily spend just trying to modernize the place (kitchen dates to the 1960's, original stove that only half works, etc) -- and carpet and floors that all need serious attention/redress.  If you put $50k into my Dad's house, you might be able to get $110k for it (if you're lucky), but with any luck, maybe we'll get $65K for it at auction (even in the condition it's in) -- and we'd come out $5k-$10k ahead.  Plus, then we're done with it quickly (and my wife and I could never manage all those improvements from 1,000 miles away).

Anyway, an auction might not be at all right in your situation, but perhaps it could be worth considering.

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One other really good thing, re: my Dad.  Late during the move, we found his official army discharge papers from 1947, iirc (he was drafted at the tail end of WWII, never went overseas, but he is fully considered a war veteran - I think he only served 14-16 months, or something like that - a little over a year).

Anyway, as I understand -- because he's a war veteran he may eventually qualify for some significant financial support/benefits (perhaps as much as $1,750+ per month) -- if he ever needs to go into a true "assisted living" (i.e. nursing home) type care facility.  There are limitations based on his annual income, and his total assets -- but I have a hunch that by the time my Dad is 96 or 98 (i.e. in 4-6 more years), he may well qualify (i.e. his assets may have fallen just below the maximum allowable to take advantage of the benefit), depending on what health issues befall him between now and then. 

So about 3-4 weeks ago we found his draft card, and the letter he got when he was drafted, along with his official army photo (all up in the attic).  But it was only last Monday that we found his discharge papers, in a box in his closet.  And they were exactly where they should have been -- in with the Masonic effects he wants to be buried with -- because the cemetery where he'll be buried (eventually, probably in 10 years when he's 102) also provides a flag because of his war veteran status.  I've known all about all those Masonic effects, as he's gone over them in some detail with me 6-7 times in the last 15 years (in a lot more detail than I care to know, to be frank).  But I never realized his army discharge papers were in that box too (or maybe I knew that 15 years ago, but none of us have thought about them since).

So, if my understanding is right, and if his total assets fall below something like $70k (I forget the exact figure), and if he needs a real "nursing home" (probably a good $4k/month) -- his benefit should be as much as $21k/year -- which is a huge relief (that we found those discharge papers).  That was THE one thing I was most worried about finding, before he moved, and by gosh we found them.  Whew!

I think we got through about 90% of the stuff in the house fairly carefully (95% of the stuff on the main floor and basement, and maybe close to 80% or 85% of the stuff in the attic).  Given how much there was, I feel like we did a pretty good job of NOT leaving behind very much that we hadn't gone through somewhat carefully.  But there was so much, and it would have taken a week (and a lot of double-work) to really try and be totally comprehensive.  We did open every box in the attic, and at least riffled through everything -- some boxes more than others).  My grandfather was a dentist, and so there were a fair number of old dental records from the 1940's and 50's up there, including several boxes of dental x-rays too.  Why in the hell was all that up there? - you might ask.  1) My grandfather saw patients 2 days per week at the house (there was a separate front room, off the living room, that was his auxiliary dental office), and the house actually had (and still has) TWO front doors (or a side-front door, is maybe the better way to say it).  and 2) my grandfather died fairly young, in his mid-50's (in the late 1950's), of cancer, which overtook him pretty quickly over 6-8 months.  So when he passed, I imagine my grandmother boxed up all his records from his main office (in downtown East St. Louis) and just moved them to the house, into the dental office -- and then my Dad eventually just moved all that stuff up into the attic when he bought the house from his mother.  My grandfather ran a one-man dental office (with just one clerk/assistant, iirc), so what else was there to do?  I'm sure my grandmother and father never threw away any of those records, just in case they were ever needed for any reason (including, I suppose, dental records for body identification - for like when someone dies in a fire, and other means of positive ID aren't possible).

It was a little weird, I have to admit, to find maybe a couple thousand dental x-rays from 60-70 years ago up in that attic a few weeks ago.  Not super creepy, but certainly a little odd.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Just found out about 2 hours ago that the retirement community where my Dad lives outside of St. Louis is closing their doors Oct 10th.

Have to suddenly figure out a new place for him to live, repack him, get him moved again and resettled in the space of about 6-8 weeks — from 1,000 miles away.

Good thing we already had tickets to go see him the week right before Labor Day — but I’m sure I’ll have to fly back twice more after that, before Oct 10.

I guess 9 weeks warning is better than 4 — but I’m still freaking out more than just a little bit.

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That is terrible. Best wishes.

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Same.

Why are they closing?

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48 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Why are they closing?

Best as I can tell from my Dad’s interpretation of the letter he got under his door this morning, the entire place needs an entirely retrofitted (new) sprinkler system — and the owner isn’t able to finance it.

When I visited him week before last, it appeared that their total number of residents were about half that of when my Dad first moved it.

I do know the owner hadn’t been allowing any tours/visitors of any sort during the Covid lockdown, until all her residents were 100% vaccinated (2nd shots), plus about a month more. There may have been other factors at play too, I really don’t know.

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Ugh. That is tough, Tom

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Good luck. Difficult situation when you’re far away. 

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They slipped a note under his door?

Are they answering the phone?

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Wishing you the best.  It's tough.  Does the retirement community itself recommend a substitute?

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, JSngry said:

They slipped a note under his door?

Are they answering the phone?

I didn’t mean the slipped under the door literally. When they deliver his morning paper each day around 6 AM, they actually open his front door and put the paper on his dining room table and they included the letter on top of that. Their normal procedures probably also include checking on every resident in the morning, since so many of them are pretty elderly. Or at least they check on the ones that are 85 years old and up, or something like that.

Since he moved in, we’ve gotten to know the owner/operator pretty well. I guess not super well, but I’ve had quite a number of extended conversations with her, and I’m sure she is caught between a rock and a hard place in all this. She’s good people.

She did provide her residence a list of all the retirement facilities in the entire county, which is the same one that I have to work from off of an online web listing.

I made some key calls yesterday morning, and the facility that we liked best two years ago does have space. It is more expensive than my dad wants to pay, but I think it will be the best for him in terms of quality and our peace of mind in terms of his care.

The wheels are just barely starting to get in motion, but I should know more on Monday when I can talk to the business manager of the facility that seems to be the most likely contender.

The big thing is that my dad actually had a crazy amount of space in his current living situation, in the place that’s now closing. He lived in what was previously to efficiencies, where they had cut a doorway between them and turned it into a really rather large two bathroom double efficiency if you will. He actually has 20 more square feet (now) than my wife and I do here in Washington DC!

The upshot is that he is going to have to slim down his footprint from 650 ft.² down to about 450 ft.², or if he isn’t willing to pay the higher cost for the standard one-bedroom unit, then he will need to take a 350 ft.² efficiency, which is still going to be $1000 more per month than where he is currently living.

His asset base, while not enormous, is decent enough for him to take either option. But he is incredibly concerned about not being able to leave some money to the Masonic organizations that he has been devoted to for 50 and 60 years of his life.

To be clear, both my wife and I think he will end up spending down all his savings and assets down to some thing that is functionally zero, if not literally so. But he really wants to leave a couple hundred thousand dollars to the Masons and it pains him to not be able to do that ultimately, as would appear to be the most likely scenario.

he’s also incredibly, incredibly cheap. Of course that is entirely the reason that he has the savings that he has, so I should not be complaining one tiniest bit.

 

Sorry this is so incredibly long, I’m walking to work, and dictated all this into my phone. If you think I’m wordy when I type stuff, you should see when I have to do it this way!! Also, gosh only knows what errors are above because of the dictation mode.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Just happy that it wasn't literally a note slipped under the door. That creeped me out because...life can be cold when you can't push back.

All the best with all of this, for all concerned.

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Sorry to hear about this Tom, I am glad that there are decent options. You may look into elder care service companies - after a fall a couple of months ago that broke a rib, we (meaning my sister) finally convinced my mother to move into an assisted living facility. She needed essentially 24 hour care at the house to make sure she didn't fall again and the two factors were that she hated having people "hovering" around her, and the realization that she could net $300,000 more than she paid in 2013, and possibly more (and she paid cash at the time), due to the current market and the popularity of her development.

My sister handled the whole thing, I was just called upon to back her up and support her on the need for this change, but one of the things she found was an elder care service company that handles the entire seamless move from house to apartment, in one day. She is marking up the things that she wants with her, soup to nuts, and they will move it all on August 31. 

Good luck.

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Posted (edited)

UPDATE:  Been a roller-coaster over the last 3 weeks. Less than 48 hours after we got the word my Dad would have to move, we found a nearly “too-good-to-be-true” new place for him to move to — one with a better (newer infrastructure) facility, and nearly the same rent ($) and almost 80% of the space he’s had the last 2 years.

Then they had to lockdown for 2 weeks because of Covid cases getting into their facility. Not a dealbreaker, we thought, and we’ll just delay his move by a 2-3 weeks…

Well, longer story, but come to find out our staff-contacts there (2 different people) were giving us inconsistent stories about the spread of Covid there, inconsistent stories about the vaccination status of their entire staff, inconsistent stories about any prior Covid cases they had earlier in the year and last year.

The final straw was when I talked to the exec-director of the retirement community my dad CURRENTY lives in (the one closing), and she shared horror stories she’d heard about the other place from more than one visiting nurse who had been in and out of the other place (and her own facility) — nurses she knew personally, and had been dealing with for 5 years or more (so very trustworthy sources). The place we thought my dad was gonna move to apparently had Covid cases running rampant last year, all of which they lied to us about when directly asked about the subject (one staff person told us NO cases last year, the other hesitantly said said “just one”) — and all their answers to Covid questions have been fuzzy, and/or they smacked of whitewashing.

My dad’s deposit to hold this place was a pittance ($100), so who cares — but then last Friday we bailed on them, and we were suddenly back to square one. (Actually they don’t know we’ve bailed on them yet, and my dad could still move there if he absolutely had to — but I’m trying to avoid that like, well, the plague.)

I’ll spare you all the other daily roller-coaster of events in just the last 3 days — but we’re now on our third other new place in 3 days, not because they didn’t have space, but various other road blocks or red flags (some of them issues with getting my Dad to understand he can’t have it all, and not pay quite a bit more for it).

 

BUT then thankfully, just yesterday a new option presented itself — a brand new (separate) expansion facility of a place we’d previously ruled out because it was too far from where he is now (but we didn’t even know about their new location). And it’s a SMALL facility — just 50 apartment units — and it’s an actual assisted-living center (24/7 nursing on-site). It’s only about 25% more expensive than where is now (which has no nursing) — and the rooms are very nice and roomy. And I love that it’s so small, so he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle — and the smaller staff should insure they actually know how he’s doing (since I’m 1,000 miles away, and he has no other family in the area).

In fact, it’s so new — the place just opened 5 months ago — that I think he may be the very first person to ever live in his specific apartment.

It’s part of a smaller regional chain of assisted living centers — mostly all over Illinois, with some in Missouri and Indiana — about 30 different locations.

The exec-director where he is now is *personally* helping all her residents find new places (god love her, she’s been a godsend in all this, and we intend to take her out to a really nice dinner when all this blows over). She’s personally helping “her people” (as she calls them) each find living situations that are really best for each resident. And she’s REALLY going several extra miles for us, because we’re so far away.

Yesterday morning she *personally* ran over to this brand new place and met with their nursing director at some length (and to see the place for herself), and got brochure packets and applications for several her tenants who haven’t found places yet — and she gave those brochures to my Dad and told him about the place, all before lunch yesterday (less than 36 hours after she herself learned of the place). Then I talked with another member of their staff in the afternoon, and my dad’s going to visit the place this afternoon.

It’s only about 7 miles from where he lives now — though my dad thinks it’s too far away. But I’m hoping like hell he really likes the place when he sees it. And the price/value is outstanding, about $3k/month — all food (3 squares) and basic care included. AND the rooms are almost 100 sq-ft BIGGER than every other option in his price-range for 25 miles in every direction, and they’re actually $1k/month cheaper than the next best options elsewhere (all of which are 100 sq-ft smaller).

Fingers-crossed.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Fingers crossed indeed. Good luck!

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Been packing my dad up since I got here (outside St. Louis) on Monday night. Everything’s going close to really well now, but it’s been a Herculean task getting to this point.

As I said above, about 3 weeks ago we discovered a BRAND NEW, full-blown “assisted living” retirement center, that just opened in March 2021. And it really is wonderful — large-ish 1BR apartments (560 sq-ft), 3 squares, and 4 levels of “assistance” when/if he needs it — but they don’t charge for the “assisted living” part until he needs it (and only at the level (price) he actually needs). It’s only $800/month more than he was paying at the place he in now that’s closing — and it’s all brand, spankin’ new. And the staff seems nothing short of wonderful (very down to earth, and they all seem like real people, and not at all like they’re stuck in jobs they hate).

https://www.villasofhollybrook.com/belleville-il/
 

Moving truck gets here tomorrow right after lunch, then I’m here helping him get settled until Tuesday.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Good luck!  Hopefully this will be a great weight off your mind.

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Flying back to DC in the morning. All things considered, the move went very well. I’ll be back in 5 weeks, but I got nearly everything done I wanted and needed to.

Maybe my assessment is a tad bit superficial, but I have been half-blown away at the quality of this assisted-living center we chose for my dad.  I’ve said it all above, about the staff, and the facilities — but I continue to think this is really just a much nicer version of the place he was before — and with even better staff — and all their KEY staff (4-5 people, including the director) all seem super with-it, and on top of everything (and all the lower-level staff have all been great too). Plus, the whole frickin’ place — the building and everything — is brand new, all less than 6 months old.

I hope I’m not proven wrong, but I’m really having a tough time imagining any sort of assisted living center that would be any better, without paying literally double the price. And what he’s paying here in the new place, (now), is barely $800/month more than what he was paying at the old place — which was nice enough back in its day, but is very shabby (almost rundown) now, 35 years after they opened their doors.

I love the director (of the new place), a gal who almost seems like a younger version of the (great) director of the old place Dad was at before — both gals are each a pistol, and definitely full of piss and vinegar if you cross either one of ‘em.

(The old director is going on our Christmas card list, for sure — and I told her I owe her a few dinners out in the coming years, for really being such a huge help in finding a place for my dad, and keeping him safe these last 18 months of Covid).

And I even got (fit!) all his furniture into the new place, and all to his liking — with enough wiggle room to accommodate a walker, when he needs to start using one all the time, maybe in another year.

Anyway, mission accomplished, pretty much in about every way I could have hoped for. Just about the biggest relief ever.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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That's wonderful news, Rooster!

I'm sure you must be immensely relieved. :tup

 

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