Stubborn Mother

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My son and I live with my mother. She has dementia, but is in good health. She is difficult to deal with and will not listen to advice. I have a durable power of attorney, but she still controls her bank account. The problem is that she is spending money wildly and will not let me help her pay her bills, and is very secretive about her money. She has thousands of dollars in a checking account, which is not good. What is the best way to handle this situation?


My parent's judgment was faltering and lacking. Both made unwise financial decisions. Mom said she didn't even know Dad took out a Home Equity Line of Credit for $60,000. On top of that, they had almost $100,000 worth of credit card debt. I didn't know, because we lived far enough away to only see them a couple times a year, and I didn't figure it was any of my business. We suspected some things, and wondered how they financed trips and cruises, etc., but I knew my Mom had inherited a huge farm from her parent's estate, so didn't think much about it. That is, until a bank officer pulled me aside while there once with my Dad. She discreetly suggested I start coming along with Dad for "meetings." So, I poked about their books at home (secretively) and was dismayed by what I saw. Everything was a mess, and there were late, and shut off notices, and bills from collection agencies. Since Dad had an Alzheimer's diagnosis, I was real concerned for their future. Then Mom was hospitalized for 5 days falling asleep behind the wheel of her car. It took me to their house, and we than found out that Dad really wasn't doing well, and that she had not been either. A short visit didn't reveal that, but the extended stay did. I began going to their doctor appointments with them, and Mom with me to the bank. Dad's health and behavior declined, and I sought Guardianship and Conservatorship through the County Probate Court, which was granted, on the context of saving them from further financial disaster. I was able to obtain Dad's Physician's backing, declaring him incapable of driving, or handling his personal finances. It is a very difficult way to go, in that it is the most intensive, time consuming things I've ever done. And it took copies to prove Dad's incapacitation. That doesn't come easily, either. Mom had never taken care of the finances, and really wasn't capable, due to her poor judgement, so it was awarded to me. I don't recommend it for everyone, because of it's difficulties. But in some cases, it is necessary. I went this route, because I knew my Mom would work against me if she still had some control. My instincts were correct, and we struggle, but it's working out well for them financially, and she is coming to terms with her limitations (probably only because she has no choice). This was handled through a petition found either at the court, or on line. I can provide you with more information if you need it. That's all I can think of to override her secretiveness. Otherwise, she's still in control. Mine was a "worst case scenario," perhaps your case is not so dramatic. Best wishes to you.
As hard as it might be, you may need to seek guardianship. Your local aging services agency should be able to assist you in a good attorney for this process, one who will be sensitive to your family. Medical opinions will also be necessary. Her PCP is the place to start. Please ask for referrals to psychiatrists or psychologists who understand the mental health issues of elder citizens. I have known other families who have had to seek this option. This is not an easy thing to do for any caregiver. My thoughts are with you.
You could always get her asessed to see how much dementia is there and then make your decession from there on what to do,if you should talk to a lawyer to take matters into your hands or leave it because she can handle it on her own. Maybe she just wants to live wyld now and has earned it. Good luck, take care.
I would encourage you to get an acessment done. If you can take her to a geriatric specialist that would be GREAT... take care J
my own mother was doing things way before can one knew about her illness.when she was first told she was a diabetic. back in 1995. then i discovered things when I went to visit the house was becoming a mess. After of years of flying back and forth I notice another change in her she was doing her check book until 4 am. i always went to the doctor with her. I live in Florida and mom was in New york. She would take mail in and hide it from herself. it was not until i got a emergency phone call from a hiosptial while I was work that mom fell outside and hit her head. YOu see she claim there was ice outside and she was outside clearing it. She feel outside in the cold and a neighbor heard the cries for help and called the fire dept. I had to go up north since I am the Power of attonery, and only legal person to take care of mom. What I found in the house while she was in the hospital was unreal. There was checks not cashed, bills not paid. clothes hanging in the basement (over 300) with price tags on them still, its was a fire trap. Mom was found to have Alzheimers/Dementia in the begining stages. but I knew it was worse than they were telling me. When she was sent home and put on so many medicines I knew it would get worse. i had mom seen by a special doctor and they gave her a test to see is she could take care of the money. The illness had started to get worse. the doctor said she is not mentally capable to take care of her funds. I had to go to her bank and bring the power of attorney with me and note from the doctors to have the word power of attorney on the title of the checking account. There were some account she had I had to close out to pay biils that were not paid.I knew she had to come live with us. But she did not want to listen, nothing was wrong with her. I did receive help the state of New York, with nurses, social workers . Mom had fallen several times after that, locked me out of her house it was not until 2006 she left the gas on while I had to run to the store up the block in new yrok to get her bread and coldcuts. It was only a block away. You see she had made a sandwich of molded bread and bad coldcuts. when I got back home I knew the gas was on from being at the door. The smell was bad. I had to get her out into fresh air and call the Fire Dept. Well I did not know that protective services would be called in. That when I was told by the state of New York I had to go back home and come back in two weeks that they were going to get me help and to have a set up five new docotors see mom and have all types of testing done. They would get me help and watch mom. I called every day,morning day night.But one day one one answer the phone. I called my uncle no one was home. Its was not even 10 days i was gone. she had fallen and broke a hip. She was in the hospital and then sent to rehab. But her condition had gotten worse. I had to sell the house, clean up the house find housing for my uncle. Mom had a two family home and her brother lived upstairs. A lien was place on the house I found that. it took me almost 7 month to clean up and get the house sold. It was in 12007 I was able to bring mom to Florida. I was informed wrong how bad her condition was. I had mom living with us only four days but was able to get every thing taken care of . the first thing was to have myself placed as legal rep on her banking account. her social security is direct depost her insurance is taken out and also a small pension.I am in charge of her checking. Mom is in a assisting living in Florida .It is a suprise of what you find . I found money in her house in church envelpoes, over $500.00 in loose change, stocks that needed to be taken care of and insurance policies of which I was able to set up as a pre paid funeral plan for mom.I was cleaning up on one of my visit's and had found a lot of the important paper work so I placed every thing in a safe place I knew mom would hind it on me.She also had income tax from 40 years, stubs from paid bills that were over 30 years old. So start to get things in place.. It will take a while. You will have to get with her doctors for a letter about her health and go to the bank. see what important paperwork she may have. Get things organized. You may have to get legal aid to help. I hope you have durable power of attorney. My mom had money at one time. She was not a wealthy person but spent her money on stupid things, She did not have things in order or the house fixed up. I was very lucky to be able to sell her house in the condition it was in. Make up a list of things mom has and get everything in your name. Yes she will fight with you but it will help in the end. She can not be left alone. Things happen. It is hard on the caregiver but it needs to taken care of before its too late.patrica61
Bless your heart... It is hard to see our parents decline isn't it!!! I would really admonish children of elders to pay attention, go and visit, go to the Dr with them. take care J

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