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My mother is in her mid 80's and has always been quite secretive. Even my Dad had no idea how much money she had, if she had insurance or any medical problems. It's getting worse, even my wife and kids (her only grandkids) don't want to be around her. She lies constantly, I have NO idea what her plans are for the future, and she WILL NOT tell me. What to do?

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Gambling! Where? In my state, gambling is illegal except for LOTTO. I can't imagine an 81 year-old going to a gambling facility.
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My mother is 81yo, good health, but gets anger and defensive when I ask questions about where she goes or who she is with... my father died about 6 years ago. Her behavior has changed drastically since then ( over spending, gambling etc) , new friends whom I have never heard of calling constantly. She let's " her friends" influence her financial decisions. This is upsetting for , she only seems to call me when she needs help , a ride here or there. At this point, my fear is that someone else has POA , but they are not family. Yes, could be dementia, but doesn't have any symptoms . Prior to my father's death , we never went anywhere other than as family unit. I find this quite upsetting, as she treats me like an acquaintance , not her own flesh & blood. Any thoughts about this please ?
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The ballgame has changed, now she wants to move in with us or we move in with her. The problem is there is no room for all of us in either house...nor do we want to live with her. We have explained, she needs help with her budget, she's spending like crazy, as if she'll go broke and we'll "have" to take her in. We rarely speak, she has a 24 hour caregiver, but this costs thousands of $$ a month!! We have no money to give her. She's in denial, thinking someone will come along and "save her", but there is no one left...even her brother has given up. Caregivers are verbally abused along with her brother and us. Still she won't tell anyone how much she has to work with, we've called dozens of Assisted Living places, but we have no idea how much she has to spend. We want to help, but she gets angry if anyone asks if she's paying her bills...she's darn near out of money, except her investments. We don't want her money...period. And if she runs out, we still cannot take her in, and per our lawyer(s), she has no right to just walk in our home, we own it and paid for it. Sad, sad situation...and stressful for her and everyone else. We've been told not to go visit her alone, I can't go into further detail on that mess. Ya know, you just cannot help someone who won't allow you to help...we've tried mediation, an MSW and a Psychologist to no avail. We have discovered mold in the downstairs bedroom...so one less bedroom. The Psychologist and Psychiatrist say some people simply waste away...and give up. Sadly it's true. The drama is affecting her grandchildren, one is away from home, everyone, friends, in-laws, us write him daily...but not a peep from his only Grandma in the USA. For those of you that have parents in their late 60's on up, beware of a sudden change in socialization, or lack thereof it can get out of hand...and can be too late before it's detected.
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@ alwayslearning. You're quite right, badgering will do no good. Our relationship is better now thank goodness.

In my line of work I have seen many fatal household accidents involving the elderly living alone, mostly involving stairways (falls). A single level house is best, or any house with a bedroom, full bath, kitchen & living or family room on the ground floor. In our case, we've given her time and friendly hints about stairs, and she's finally got the idea, they're dangerous! Especially since she gets dizzy. Two weeks ago we had to take her to the Emergency Room, although she gave us no real symptoms, my wife is an RN, that helped.. She gave the doc and RN no real symptoms either, and the doc and I had a private talk, she was somewhat dizzy at times, but additionally just wanted attention. After she cancelled 3 doctors appointments, always at the last minute, we simply showed up @ her house an hour before another appointment with her doctor and drove her there.

She's feeling better and we stop by often, our sons cut her grass if they're not at work,college or in Marine Corps training (PT, that is physical training in our case,not Physical Therapy) several times a week.

Thankfully she has taken our advice and purchased a "Life Alert" necklace. She's considering moving to an assisted living community, and we're taking her to see some this week. Luckily they're all close to us, and will accept her cat as well. Pets can help the elderly, disabled or just about anyone, with their "unconditional love". Mom's thrilled she can take her "companion" (cat) with her, whenever she moves, real estate is kind of slow here.

Now, in return for your comments, I'd like to remind everyone with an elderly parent who lives alone some basic safety tips: they need plenty of outdoor lighting for walking to the patio and for security. "Home Invasions" are more common now than a few years back. Burglars almost always selected unoccupied homes in their day, today they can be bolder. Alarm Systems can give your parent a sense of well being, and a degree of security, however the elderly often forget to turn the alarm off or on. Police respond to thousands of false alarms, generally the first few are free, but some cities, I should say MANY cities will charge residents for frequent false alarms (more money out of Mom or Dads pocket). Charging for frequent false alarms is justified, as some unknowingly/knowingly abuse the system, creating delays in police/Medic response for other calls and emergencies. NO GUNS, period. Dogs help also, a German Shepherd is ideal, but too hard for the elderly to care for and train, small dogs make noise, intruders often avoid noise, so even a tiny dog can be helpful, by "sounding the alarm" . Have someone trim bushes away from windows and doorways, bushes are wonderful places for prowlers to hide. Gas stoves...I don't need to explain that one. Buy a couple smoke alarms and install them for Mom or Dad, don't forget to check the batteries, say on New Years Day or a Birthday, so you don't forget. Of course I can't guarantee their safety 100%, but I hope these suggestions and some common sense will help someone! Brochures on safety for the elderly are generally available at police and fire stations, hospitals and doctors offices. Life Alert necklesess are available from AARP and other senior citizens organizations...in our case Mom's costs about $30.00 a month, well worth it ! Shop around, I know someone who pay's $60.00 a month. Every penny Mom or Dad saves helps in today's economy ! (Our newspaper declared the recession as being over...ahhh, in my humble opinion it's not over quite yet, not for seniors anyway, if Medicare or Medicaid is cut!!!). Thanks for your responses!
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Mom's more co-operative now...however she was taken by a guy that charged her over $600.00 for trimming some bushes & planting (digging a hole, 6 holes to be exact). I'm a retired police officer and one of my good friends is the Chief of Police, Mom asked me to take care of the $600.00+, to call the man who overcharged her (Theft by Deception in our State). If he ignores me I'll deal with him. Also, I have learned ,in our State I can get "Power of Attorney", even if she doesn't want me to. She shouldn't be driving either, hit a parked car last week,and on meds that make one sleepy. She's been good and isn't driving until she's off the Meds. We located an agency in her neighborhood that will drive her to and from the grocery store, doctor, etc. if we can't. She'll give me Power of Attorney soon, no need for any legal red tape. Things are looking up for now, we are aware there will be setbacks, etc. Incidentally, lies are unacceptable because we cannot protect her without the truth on matters such as being taken by scam artists,etc.
In my opinion "so what if she lies" is a form of denial, a way to ignore the problems she faces, that's why they have power of attorney. Someday soon she'll need her funds to pay for assisted living and as a loving son I want to make sure she has her money and isn't ripped off,we all know elderly people are prime targets for scam artists. Estimates of how many elderly people are taken advantage of are flawed because such crimes are grossly under reported, mostly because the victims are embarrassed. We're aware that chronic lies cannot be effectively treated at an advanced age. Thanks for all your replies.
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Yomamma, If your mother has always been 'secretive' then that's just the way it is. She's not gonna change at this late date, so just be the son. Stay involved in her life in a non-threatening way, and if she lies.... can't change that either. But if you start to see worse changes that are going to affect her safety, then step in and do what you have to do.
Good luck.
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Wow, do I ever know how you feel. If your Dad is still alive, then she is basically his problem. I had this same problem with my Mom and Dad. Dad died just about the time my brother (at my urging) talked to Mom about assigning a POA, letting us know what she wanted, etc. She has put my brother on her checking account, he is her POA, executor of her will. What is the problem? She lied to him that I wanted her money and has left me in the dark. She is embrassed that she and Dad never did anything for their two children, no college, no wedding, no anything. They always said we were poor. So not true. And I never asked for any money, ever. Never needed any. But now our relationship is terrible. She is a healthy, financially secure 80 year old widow with a bad disposition and no friends. Now her daughter can't stand her either. She lies constantly. Why am I telling you all of this. Well be careful what you wish for, sometimes it is the ugliness that lies underneath that you really don't want to know. And as for not working with you on these matters, don't believe this will "just work out". You will have to go to great lengths to take care of her, to pay her bills, to get information from a doctor, when she in not able to take care of herself. Or, as I have decided, she can do it on her own.
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So what. If she lies, she lies. Don't ask her any questions and just keep her fed, warm and comfortable. You don't need to figure out anything. It's just the way she is. Nothing will change her if she is in her mid-eighties, as you say. One of these days she will be gone, and you'll have to deal with her estate and her will , if she has one. Plan on some surprises.
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All you have to do is maintain enough of a relationship that you will know if/when she really gets into trouble and you can step in. Imagine that she were 60, and it hadn't occurred to you yet to want to know all about her plans. Then imagine how, If at 61 she suddenly got terribly ill, you'd step in and you'd find out what you needed to know --- and if she were that terribly ill she'd let you find out. Try applying the same mindset now. It will keep you from badgering her -- you want to know the stuff she doesn't want to tell you just because she's old, and she'll resist it for the same reason.
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...sorry, your profile says that your Mom has Alz/Dementia...anyway, it sounds like, for now, she is in a safe environment.
You are really in a tough spot. Your Mom is one of those really independent people of her generation. However, her secretiveness only complicates your desire to help her. You may give it one more try to talk to her about her future. Pick a time when you are alone and she is in a receptive mood. Tell her that you worry that you do not know what her wishes are for the future: For example, where does she wish to live if the house becomes too much for her? What if she in unable to pay bills and handle finances? Tell her about the Power of Attorney and how it works - that it is there to protect her.
If she still does not respond, I don't think there is much else you can do. All of us want to think that we will always live independently, with no help from others...unfortunately, that is rarely the case.
Good Luck,
Lilli
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She lives at home, her home that is. Plenty of stairs. "Safe" neighborhood, 1/8 mile from the local PD and Rescue. She doesn't have Altz.,
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...just read your profile...didn't realize Mom had Alzheimers...puts a different spin on things...
I would contact the Alz. Association for advice. You may have to become her guardian (legally) for her own protection. If she is speding money on dubious causes and shady people, then, as her only family, you need to get involved. Is there a clergy member or friend whom she trusts who can intercede? You may have to resort to tough love and do what is in the best long-term interests of your Mom. So sorry for your situation...there's never a good answer when Alz. sets in. It seems like it is just intensifying her already secretive behavior.
Good luck,
Lilli
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If she is not expecting you to be her caregiver, has not asked you to be the POA or involved you in other financial decsions, I suppose that you will have to assume that she has things figured out, has made some plans on her own, or just does not want you involved.
Many times, people who grew up in the depression era do not trust ANYONE...so don't take it personally.
If she gets to a point where she needs help, just do the humane things that you would do for any human being in need and that's it. She has made her wishes known.
I feel your pain, however. My Mom spent her life telling me that she did not want her family involved and did not want to live with family. And now, things are quite different. So be prepared for either event, but you will never force her to come clean.
Btw, where is she living now?
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