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My Dad, a fiercely independednt retired Marine, is not opening his mail timely. As a result, his bills are not getting paid or are paid late. Any advice on how to approach this subject with him? Is this a sympton of dementia?

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I took over this for my mother almost a year ago, for the same reasons you describe w/your dad. She's quite a control freak, so I had to be stealthy and sneaky about it. When she wasn't looking, I literally grabbed all the mail I could get and stuffed it into my purse. I also took her recent copies of tax returns, insurance info, bank statements, everything. I created my own files with this stuff, both hard copy and electronic. I went online and forwarded her mail to my address. I put her on as many "do not call" and "no junk mail" databases as I could.
Yes, get POA for your father if you don't have it already.
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Hint: mom had two stacks, one paid and the other unpaid bills. She would hide the bills she didn't like in the bottom of the paid stack. She hated taxes, water bills and medical bills. Good thing you are on top of this.
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Thank you all . I discovered the problem because he told me he had received a shut off notice from the telephone company. I paid the bill online for him and since then, I get email reminders when his bills are past due. I also have given my telephone number for his contact info with his doctors- they have called because he has outstanding,past due balances. Lastly, I see a stack of mail when I visit - all unopened.......I will try to address it directly, and take the suggestion of us doing the bills together....fingers crossed. Thank you all again.
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I would change his address to mine. He won't be getting any mail, but he may not notice.
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If he was always on top of things before this then this may be an indicator of something being wrong. I don't know if he has dementia but if this is out of character for him you'll have to act fast.

The first thing you do is get POA over your dad. This will enable you to take care of his financial business if/when the time comes. If your dad is mentally slipping this has to be done soon before he's unable to assign you POA.

Some people go to an attorney to have this done. I downloaded the forms off of Legalzoom.com and never had a problem using it.

Have you been to see your dad lately? How's his house? There can be subtle signs that someone is slipping. A messy house (if the person was normally tidy), confusion in the fridge (old food, a box of sugar, things that shouldn't be in the fridge), and take a gander at his car. My dad had dinged all four fenders on his car over and over. Most of these things aren't obvious unless you look for them.

And ask him how he's feeling but don't be surprised if he says he's fine. He may not realize he's slipping or he may realize it but refuse to discuss it or he may not admit to it at all.

I'm curious as to how you found out about his mail. It must have been an alarming discovery for you.

Keep an eye on him and if he has anymore symptoms suggest he see his Dr. Although being a fiercely independent Marine I think you may have a fight on your hands.
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Yes, this is one of the first signs family members should be alert to. Do you live close by? There are subtle ways to get involved. Utilities can be notified this is a senior so they don't turn off the service - they would notify you (or another) instead. You can check the alzheimers website --- alz.org While this is more likely dementia, the signs and behaviors are similar. Think of how to approach this. Can you casually say, gee the print on the mail keeps getting smaller, let's take a look at what you have there? I used to write the checks out for my mother-in-law and have her sign them to make it 'easy'. If you do something like this, you can assess the level of interest.

One big things you can still do at this stage. Make sure all the legal stuff is in order! POA, medical care proxy, wills etc. How to get to that subject? Dad my friend 'Suzy' is helping her parents get everything together b/c her in-laws left a mess when they got ill. Why don't we do the same things and that way I can help you if you ever need it. I know your service experience is to be always be prepared. Good luck
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Yes, it sure is a symptom of dementia. Try this:

"Hey, dad, why don't I start making out your checks for you when I come over? It's no trouble at all. Makes me feel useful!! How does that sound to you?"

I took over mom's bill paying probably five years ago. She's 87. Lives with me now. But I suddenly noticed she was paying bills late or paying them twice. Couldn't balance her checkbook anymore. She never blinked when I said that to her. She was fine with it.

I'd gather everything together twice a month and then tell mom, "Okay, mom, I'm paying your electric bill, gas bill and lawn cutting bill today." Then I'd tell her what her balance was in her checking account, and mail the payments on my way home.
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