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We lost my mother a year ago to cancer and she took care of all the finances. My father is 83 and showing some signs of dementia and depression. My brother is living with him now because he needs someone to be with him and take care of things, but is pulling his hair out trying to keep up with the bills, when my father goes on spending sprees with out his knowledge, he wants to address this with him, but he goes off on him every time. Does anyone know a kind way to tell him he can't have his credit cards and paypal accounts anymore?

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This is as difficult as convincing someone to quit driving. I think kindness is necessary, but you also need to be firm. Does your dad have a good friend - someone outside of the family - who can help? Often, elders will listen to someone of their own generation before they'll list to their kids who just want to "control" them.

If that doesn't work, I guess just closing the accounts and letting the chips fall may be your only answer. Just understand what a blow to his self-esteem this is. You'll need to try to help him work through it.

Take care,
Carol
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I sympathize completely, because my father also spent money like they were rich people. The bad thing is that he didn't buy anything useful. He was bored and had dementia, so he shopped from catalogs. My parents had money to cover the expenditures, but I think about all the thousands and thousands he spent on absolute junk and know it could have been put to better use. I was not successful in dealing with it, but I did what I could. I tried to keep catalogs away from him. If he had been a computer buff, I would have tried to disable his computer, probably by doing something as simple as disconnecting the modem. Of course, I would take it in for repair, but it would somehow not get back home for a long time.

Spending money is a sign not only of dementia, but also of boredom. My father was a hermit, so there was no way to get him out to do things. He had great fear of leaving the house. If I could have, I would have tried to get him interested in going to a senior center to play games with others his age. The seniors at our local center have a good time with each other and hang out with each other. It is a wonderful service for us old folk. Some of the people at the center have dementia, but still have a good time.

If your father is tied up playing games and talking to friends, perhaps he will not be buying things. I wish I could have distracted my father like this.
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when my mom went through this I notified the bank where I was listed second on the account that I wanted her credit card closed. She tried to use it a few times and then gave up. The money in her checking account I could show her was just enough to cover her monthly bills. A few months after that, she handed over all of her bills to me to take care of for her. I allowed her 50.00 a week for whatever she wanted. At this point we lived 650+ miles apart.
Perhaps you and your brother could sit down with dad and go over your concerns without being accusatory. Show him where the money goes every month and ask his help in controlling the spending. And as soon as you can , get someone else on the accounts to afford a little more control and the ability to check the status of the accounts online, anytime.
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What if you kindly bring up to him that your mom used to take care of the monthly budget and that it seemed they did very well with that. Maybe if you say to him that you want to help him to continue to have a good life and would be happy to do what your mom used to do he might listen (?). In our household, my husband has always managed our 401K, investments, etc. and I take care of the day to day, month to month. We are in our 50's but I know if anything happened to either of us we'd each be somewhat a loose ends and it would be at the very least to say, a big adjustment for us to do what the other did for a while. So empathy about that may help and willingness to 'help' rather than 'control' (if he can get that message) may meet with more agreement on his part.
Since I don't know your dad, it's hard to say. I have seen so many weird dynamics in both our families and parents surrounding issues of control. I can understand that when someone - as my BIL does with my MIL - tries to sledgehammer his point across she feels intimidated and as if her freedoms are being taken away.
Here's a scenario - if your mother was a great cook and now your dad is struggling to eat well, it could be compared to him in that same vein. How would your dad like it if someone stepped in and cooked him the delicious meals he is missing that your mother used to make? If that is a 'hot button' for him the case to him can be made that "look dad, I know you miss a lot of the things Mom used to handle and do for you. Why don't you let me _______(fill in the blanks) for you and maybe that would make things easier?". Tell him how important it is to you that he have a good life and enough to take care of himself for the rest of it and that you are concerned. I guess that's all I can think of , unless you really feel dementia is taking over. Then you can force him legally to hand over the reins. In which case you need assessments, lawyers, etc.
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The times that I was allowed control of N.'s finances, it worked best when I gave her a small cash fund to play with. You can also set up a paypal card like this, then when he has spent the money for the month, game over. I managed to save up a couple thousand dollars for her even on a very limited social security income. Then after a year of fighting with her I asked social security to give control to a third party, they gave it to her instead. She pi--ed the money away in just a few months. So her father began giving her an allowance in addition to her social security and she spent a ton of that too. She has spent life insurance fund from my father, $40,000 and her father's inheritance.

Years later I had control of her finances for about six months and we discussed her spending habits again. She had three thousand dollars saved up because she had been in the hospital for about 3.5 months. Again I did well with budgeting, but once she was up and around, she managed to find a place that gave seniors rides for donation only. She had the place send ME paperwork so that I could pay the donation! Then promptly began spending all of the money in the bank account, three thousand dollars in three months. I called the place and explained that my mother was fully capable of paying her own donation and then some BTW. She cannot be fixed no matter how many times I discuss things with her. Now that I have washed my hands of her and cut off contact, it's a non issue. OH, almost forgot to say, this last episode had all happened between summer 2011- spring 2012, well about three or four months ago I think, N. called my brother and told him that I stole all of her money out of that bank account! She had moved all of that money out of the two accounts and into a new one so that I couldn't see how she was spending or control any of it anymore. Stupid woman. My sister set my brother straight. (he and I no longer speak)

My husband is also a spending problem, he likes cigarettes, beer, and junk food. I have control of the only bank account that he has and I supply him with all his needs, but if he FEELS he needs/wants more, or if he runs out before I get to the store, WATCH OUT! He does know that I WILL take away his bank card if he gets out of control again. His bad habits left us poor our whole marriage and when he was drugging/drinking he would steal from me and the kids. Now that he is dry I am able to reason with him somewhat, but he is never in complete control because even as a clean addict and a dry drunk, he ALWAYS puts himself and his desires FIRST.

Talk until you are blue in the face, your best bet will always be to get control of the finances and give them a small amount of their own spending money.
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My mom was guilty of this. My son and I told her if she got below a certain level, she was then involving us because we would have to support her or partially support her financially. This wasn't going to fly with us especially if she just pi@@ed it away. So if she didn't want us involved she needed to get a grip. On her part, she was being selfish expecting us to support her.
You need to be careful if you ask someone like a friend to try getting your dad on track. An outsider talked to my mom and told mom if she was running low on funds, it was probably because my son, daughter and i were taking mom's money. It escalated and the outcome was not pretty. Things would've been a lot different without outside interference.
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I agree with frustrated2 that HOW you say it, such as in a helpful concerned way, works best. I'm dealing with early onset dementia with my husband. I find that is when I discuss my concerns in a loving way and we discuss options, he is less resistant. Part of those discussion are the possible consequences, i.e. I'm love you Dad and I'm concerned that if you keep spending like this you won't be able to pay your bills and may loose your house, so what are we going to do. I know it is strange talking this way to an adult, especially your parent, but people with dementia loose the capacity to think through consequences, sort of like kids.If you can get them to understand in that moment and time, you can get them to agree to letting you help or making changes. That's how I got my husband to give up driving. Though in case he forgets that he agreed, his keys no longer work.
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For those of you whose loved ones are able to get around and they have ATM cards, debit cards, credit cards, etc. Get a hold of a VERY VERY VERY strong magnet. This magnet is not your average fridge magnet, this is a magnet strong enough to remove those locking tags on clothing or plastic boxes they keep expensive items in at stores. THAT strong. Or, if you have ever destroyed a computer hard drive, the magnets inside of there MIGHT be strong enough.

Slowly move this magnet across the magnetic strip on the backs of the bank and credit cards you wish to disable. Do this several times. You should have totally destroyed any information and made the card completely useless.

The first time I did it, it only made the card more difficult to use. The cashier managed to get it to work after several tries with a plastic bag. A few days later I got his card and tried again. He came back to me the next day and said, "Honey, I don't think God wants me to spend money anymore, the card seems to have died". I smiled and said, "I think you and God are right".

I had to do this to my husband's bank card when he kept overdrawing our bank account by buying excessive amounts of beer, cigarettes, and junkfood.
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