My Aunt has no living children or siblings and is declining in mental health. How can I help her?


I recently discovered that my Aunt's mental state is rapidly declining. She lives alone in a senior, independent living apartment building. She is showing strong signs of dementia and is having trouble remembering how to do things like, unlock her car door before she gets out (she had to bang on her window until a stranger stopped to help her). She has not yet filed her 2017 taxes, which is something I know very little about. I never expected to have to take care of this Aunt, who I have never been very close with. But it appears the job will fall to me and I am clueless as how to proceed, especially with regards to her finances and helping her this tax season, as April 15 is rapidly approaching.

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Are you sure she files taxes? Usually many seniors living in DHHS housing don't make enough to have to file. While I am not 100% sure of this, it's worth checking out. Did she file last year? Those that live in senior housing are required to submit a record of their finances annually to the management of the DHHS subsidized unit (cost of medications, doctor bills, cost of utilities) that much I do know, to prove they qualify to continue to live there. 
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Dear morethanasong,

I know you love your aunt and want to help her during this difficult time. Its good of you to offer to be her advocate since she has no other family. I'm not sure if you can talk to a social worker first about all your aunt's options. It is a lot to take on all the emotional, medical, financial decisions for an elderly person. I know you have good intentions, but I wouldn't want you to take on too much and then become resentful about the responsibility.

For myself, my dad passed 5 months ago and I'm in the process of completing his final tax return. And it has been a nightmare with missing slips. I'm not sure if you aunt had an accountant help her. But write a letter to the tax office and see if they will give you an extension.
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Don't get guilted into biting off more than you can chew.

The independent living management company might be a useful source of information about elder care services your aunt could buy, including the all important word of mouth recommendations from people who've used them before. I'd start there, and find out what help is available.

Also, as the situation has developed rapidly and was totally unexpected, inform the tax authorities and see if they pleasantly surprise you with an extension or something. I know they're not known for their understanding and humanity, but give them a chance at least...
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