Government respite worker helped Mom cancel credit card while I was out.

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A few details for background -- I left a teaching job to move in with my mother 4.5 years ago and have had to take over all of her care except for respite twice a week. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease Dementia about 2 years ago and in recent months has been sliding downhill fast. She has bouts of suspicion and paranoia and becomes fixated on money. Now she is convinced I am "spending all her money". For evidence of this she accuses me of using too much toilet paper ( I have to do her toileting and she is also incontinent). And she thinks I spend too much on groceries ( I tried to make her diet healthier with more fruits and vegetables and whole foods because of the Parkinson's.) She gets the statements each month and can see where the money goes and that we are living well within her means (on a modest government pension), but there is no reasoning with her when she gets like this. She has lost her ability to reason and have good judgement.

She gave me her credit card to pay for groceries, the pharmacy and household things but then started to demand it back. I also have POA which she gave me 7 years ago before the dementia was a factor. I told her I needed the card to pay for groceries, so she called the local police who came to the house to investigate. I called my aunt, her sister, to come and she told him the true situation. Mom can appear normal to strangers but they don't see the 24/7 hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. Anyway he was satisfied and helpfully, not!!!, told Mom she could cancel the credit card if she wanted.

The next day when I was out the respite worker helped Mom to cancel the card. I was grocery shopping at the time which they both knew. I asked the worker to call me if anything happened but she didn't. After getting groceries the card was declined at the checkout. I had to pay for the groceries myself, which I do sometimes anyway, as I can afford. But what are we going to do next week or after that for groceries or necessities? I can't afford to pay for everything on my own. I think the worker showed poor judgement at the very least.


Good grief, what a mess. No way the respite person should have don't that. Make sure the organization is made aware of this event.

It seems like you have two choices. Talk mom into reinstating the card or use her checking account for expenses. Take your POA to hr bank, explain the situation and see if there's any way you can access her accounts. In the future, don't discuss any bills or money with her. Just do what has to be done. Tell her anything she wants to hear to calm her down and change the subject. I don't thnk you're going to be able to reason with her at this point.
Thanks, Wendy, I agree it's a big mess. I have been trying to minimize money discussions with Mom to spare her the anxiety, but it flat out doesn't work. However I have been in contact with our local Senior's Care team and will make an appointment with her Doctor and also call social services to see what they can do about the situation. I don't know if I can face the bank right now but it may have to come to that. I am pretty tired and stressed and absolutely hate having to relate the whole miserable story to a bunch of strangers.
That worker operated well above her pay grade, and you should report her. There are plenty of things she could have done to delay facilitating your mother's wishes (I expect that's what she thought she was doing) until she, the worker, could be certain that what your mother wanted to do was in her, your mother's, best interests (which is what she ought to have done). Not evil, not intentionally obstructive; just officious, obtuse and frankly a bit of a moron. A moron who apparently lacks training in dementia care, by the way.

You might want to phrase your letter of complaint a little more diplomatically than that.

You sound as if you are wearily aware of what needs to be done now that your mother is rapidly losing capacity, so I won't go on. Just wish you the best of luck - and there are lots of people on the forum who know all the pitfalls to look out for, so come back with any questions and I'm sure they'll have good answers.

If you have POA, can you pay for groceries, etc by check as her POA? Or, reimburse yourself for those purchases? If you do, keep meticulous records with full supermarket tapes to document the reimbursements. Can you intercept the mail and withhold the financial statements so it doesn't cause Mom anxiety? As POA you are then fully responsible for reviewing. (When I brought in a live in aide for my Mom I had ALL financial documents directed to my address. This precluded aides from seeing documents and my Mom from angsting over them). See if you can't at least intercept them to reduce the stress. Everyone here knows that this disease doesn't allow the person to think clearly or use good judgement. AND yes, I would report the respite worker to the agency if there is one or terminate her if it was private hire.
Tough to Care, don't be the least bit concerned about relating your story to a bunch of strangers, that's what this forum is all about. Your "Miserable Story" is minor league compared to lots of others on here. At least it doesn't involve poop, diapers and bedsores.
Toughtocare, too bad that respirt worker wasn't being paid by your Mom's credit card.... oops.

Since Mom no longer has a credit card, I would use tough love and only buy her things that she absolutely, positively need. If she complains she doesn't have this or that, remind her she cancelled her credit card.
OK, from now on keep every penny separate. No joint accounts. No credit cards. If you pursue Guardianship, you have to do that anyway. If she lives with you, get a written cost-sharing agreement drawn up by an attorney. Without that document, Medicaid will consider anything she gives you as a "gift" and invoke a penalty. You protect yourself that way.
Did your mother live through the Depression? If so, she might be harking back to times when money was so tight and they had to scrimp. Those long forgotten memories now resurface in old age and add to the list of things to fear, as fears become disproportionate and hard to combat or rationalize.

My father still thinks that $50 a night for a motel is outrageous when he used to be able to get them for about $8 a night.

I would have suggested opening a separate credit account just for your mother, but with you as the only signatory. However, that wouldn't easily be explained if Medicaid is in the future.

Another option is to get a debit card for her checking account and use that. Still, whatever you do, keep the receipts and document the transactions.

I agree that the respite worker was out of line. My first thought was whether your mother provided access to any other financial documents. It wouldn't hurt to get all those together and keep them in a locked fireproof box.
Something you can do that may be easiest. Apply for another credit card in her name and manage the accounts online. Paperless. Have the money to pay for the bill each month come out of her checking account. You know you are honest, so if you think that will cause trouble, have everything at the bank done online, too. "Paperless" can save a lot of paranoid ideas that can form when people look at numbers they can no longer understand. If the need does arise that she demands seeing something from the bank, then you can tell her, "Oh! I think I can get one of those online."

Yes, this is how I handle my mother's money. She knows there is a charge account, but it is all online. She still sees her bank accounts, but if that ever got to be a problem, I would go paperless. All of her utilities are handled online, either through automatic charge or bank debit. Online services are a wonderful gift to caregivers. They save us so much work.
Thanks to everyone who replied. I appreciate it so much.

Pam, we have different rules here in Canada. We don't have to have records examined retroactively because we don't have Medicaid. We are covered by medicare and special seniors programs like a seniors drug plan and Continuing Care, another program that provides home support and respite to elders who can't pay, on a sliding scale based on income. If a person enters assisted living, they take the pension benefits but not other assets, like a house. Not sure about savings, but I don't think so.

We have no joint accounts. I pay household bills with telephone banking from her account, and use the one credit card for everything at stores ( or did). I have my own finances separate. I would love to do telephone banking but Mom is so distrustful and suspicious ( and always has been, just now cannot understand or use good judgement about what she sees) that she would explode if she didn't see the bills. I would dearly love to just handle them and keep her anxiety at bay, but she is still aware enough to try to insist on following every bill even though it causes her so much anxiety. And me-- from the fallout and accusations about every little thing. She has always been very tight and obsessive with money and yes, since she hasn't gone shopping for groceries in years she has no idea how much food costs, but thinks I shouldn't be buying "extras" even though food is one of her few comforts and she enjoys every bite. We also have family allergies to dairy and gluten and substitutes are pretty costly. I try to bake for special occasions but am too tired, with everything else, to do so every day.

Anyway, I have told Mom I will be buying more of the groceries and paying a few of the household bills when I get my pension in a few months, but as I said, she is not often open to reason these days. She was a little calmer yesterday after I showed her her financial statements. Though she couldn't understand them clearly she could see the numbers.For now I am keeping them close so she can see them whenever she likes. Somehow she had got it in her head that she was in imminent peril, dropping several zeroes from her savings and that we would have to sell the house for "spending money". Sigh.

I think this week I will try to talk her into letting me have cash for the groceries and will definitely start a book with records and all the receipts. I will get her to her doctor and see what can be done. Apparently she has asked them to send another credit card but who knows if she will let me have it.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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