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My boyfriend's father (Morris) keeps opening up ATM cards at our local bank. My boyfriend and I live with Morris -who has Alzheimer disease- and care for him when we can. Currently we are both working 8-5pm everyday so we are not able to watch him. Morris is still in early stages of Alzheimers and has not needed our full 24 hour watch. He is able to stay at home and perform daily activities but has recently been going on walks to the local Chase Bank. There, he receives a new ATM card and begins pulling out money he doesn't have. Chase is fully aware that Morris is not allowed access to the account, given we have spoken with them before about this. We also have all the necessary cards linked to the account. We have spoken with Chase numerous times asking if they could put note on the account to not allow Morris to receive a card but they say this is against the law? How could this be possible if we have power of attorney? I just want to add that this is all very new to me and I don't have a lot of knowledge on all this. Any advice? Maybe making a new checking account all together?

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Hi Johannes,

Yes, I can identify. Looking back, I think my mom was losing it about 7-8 years ago. She would tell us these weird stories --and keep telling them. Some of them she told for 4-5 years. My husband and I were just so sick of it. And God forbid if we contradicted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hang in there and stay on top of things. It is hard work but much easier than cleaning up the mess of not doing so.

Big hug!
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Salisbury, You are so right! And what you've said to me about the stages, is very similar to what a case manager said to me just yesterday. My Dad went through it just like this. It's like they KNOW inside that they are not functioning right, but they want to TRY to be OK...and whenever there is evidence that they are 'losing it'....either they deny or become angry and blame and attack. Also, whenever there is any kind of crises that upsets the 'routine' that keeps them thinking they are ok...there is a decompensation to a worse level...either for awhile or permanently. My Dad's was permanent. There was a flood in their house 2 yrs ago right before Christmas. He just flipped out due to the fans and the noise and the workers coming and going. He decided he was in a boarding house and my mom was the boss because she was talking to all these people and not him. They came to our house for Christmas, and he was worse...wandering at night, couldn't find the bathroom, talked about how he was on a trip and snowed in and he had a 'load' to deliver but it was parked down the road and he had to get to it. I would go along with his stories to keep him calm... "It's OK Dad. I called them and told them you were snowed in.... They understand you'll be late..." But Mom would get him angry because she would just tell him he didn't know what he was talking about. What they think is very real in their head. I think they are mixing up old memories with dreams and thoughts or old experiences. Their poor brains must be going nuts with snyapses that are missing constantly! But, after he was placed and on some good meds from a Geriatric psychiatrist, he's now in a 'happy place' as I call it. He remembers nothing for more than 30 minutes or so. He can still recognize us and can remember a lot from long ago, so if you talk about things of the past and look at pictures from those days, he can converse. We had a great time last Christmas, because after getting him to remember it was Christmas and to open gifts at his facility, I started asking him about what they did on Christmas at home with Grandma and Grandpa when he was a little boy.....well we got story after story of different Christmas things he remembered. And he so enjoys talking or having someone ask him questions from those times. He is very sociable, but he doesn't volunteer or ask for anything or start conversations. The space he is in now, he believes that he has to wait until someone tells him what to do next. I asked him why the other day. His answer had something to do with 'because I just can't figure out what I want or what's going to happen next....' As I see it happening now with my Mom....she HAS to start her day with a very strict routine. She's out of sorts if I phone her too soon, or if I have not shut off her night alarm and she wants to go out and get the paper, or if there has to be any discussions too soon. She hates to get phone calls and doesn't want to talk very long anymore. And she's gotten markedly worse since Thanksgiving because we went through discovering that my dad was beaten on by his roommate and had terrible bruises . We had to move Dad to another cottage and file complaints and send him to the ED to be seen by a doctor....My mom really was not involved in all of this, but just having to go to a different cottage to visit him...the one right next to where he was on the same grounds...just threw her off. She couldn't park in the same place, or go in the same gate. The caregivers didn't talk to her right...on and on. We finally had to switch the two men and move his roommate to the other cottage and move dad back to his old room! A lot of work for staff, I know, because I am a retired RN. She didn't care though...not a whit....she just wanted things the way she was used to! And then, she was angry and telling me I was totally wrong, that when they took pictures of his bruises he was "over in that awful cottage'...and that's where he got beat up.... All I did was remind her that the reason he had moved was BECAUSE he had gotten the bruises....but NO! I was wrong and she was right....and just to prove she was right all the time, she was going to start the next day, keeping a diary! She's been such a pistol for MANY years, that I do wonder if she's been in dementia state or some other mental problem a lot longer than we know!!! Anyhow...expounding on too much, but maybe the symptoms will help someone else. This was all quite a shock to me, even being an RN...likely because we only saw pts while in the hospital and didn't know much about their home life. I NEVER expected the end of my parents lives to be like this though!!!
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Dear Johannes,

My goodness, what a story. I am so sorry that you have to go through this. And for a second time! I can relate in so many ways. The money issues, of course. But also the anger. I have been awed over the last four years by my mother's complete refusal to apologize for anything. No matter what happens, she will not take responsibility or even acknowledge that someone else has been inconvenienced. At the teeniest hint that she has done something or forgotten something, or the teeniest hint of a contradiction, her famous refrain is: "Oh, so I'm wrong." We listened to that for four years straight. Today, her memory is so bad that she forgets to get angry. Forgets to be insulted. She is hanging on by a thread--a lucid thread in the great here and now. Just this instant.

Today she went on an excursion to a German Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) and out to lunch. I saw her at 2:00 and she had already forgotten where she had been--or that she had been anywhere..

Here is the crazy thing: she is passing out of the zone where she can make a lot of trouble. It sounds awful but now that she is really much worse, she is much easier to deal with. I used to feel so sorry for people whose parents were in this condition and I thought my mother would never be like that. Now I realize that they were having a much easier time than I was--and it wasn't that long ago!

I will keep you in my prayers. Good luck. Don't lose your sense of humor!!!!!!!!!
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AL initials for Assisted Living. I've been through this with my parents...and our POA account is at Wells Fargo. I live in another town. My Mom, who cannot handle money because she refuses to spend money on anything....so she would have two 24 cu ft refirgerators filled with hoarded food (because it was on sale and a bargain!) she would complain about the cable bill or the electric bill or a medical bill and think she was being cheated. She doesn't write checks either and other issues, though she's still living home alone right now, with careful watching and daily contacts by phone and video camera. So, even though I have POA, she likes to go to the bank and ask them for the print out so she can argue with me about what bills I've paid or spent money on. Constant arguments and questions. I asked W.F. if they could refuse to give this to her so I was not harassed. I am NOT doing anything wrong with her money, and I have to provide monthly printouts to the law office and casemanager who are helping me, on their demand, so that we are sure we're doing all right ahead of time for when she needs Medicaid. Anyhow...she also has her own checking account at that bank, but she won't get her spending money out of HER account....unless I immediately pay 'hers' back! She doesn't understand, that it's all in her trust anyhow...and sooner or later as she runs out of cash, we will have to use 'hers' to pay her living expenses. Anyhow...I was told that W.F. cannot refuse to give her money from the POA account, nor can they refuse to give her the print outs. So my solution is to open a POA account at a branch here where I live that doesn't have a branch in her town...or perhaps go to the credit union where we bank all the time. Now, mom has not yet been declared incompetent by two doctors, so I not sure that would make a difference and whether there would be a different form that one gave to the bank. I got involved as POA and Trustee for my parents, when Mom discovered that Dad had not been paying bills and their utilities were going to be turned off. Then we found that he was making purchases that were not the way he would usually spend money....like agreeing to someone who just came to his door that they could resurface the driveway for $3000!! We had to pay another $1500 to have it fixed, because this guy only put a fresh 2 inch of concrete on top of the old stuff to make it look pretty. He had no license and no business name, so we could not even press charges afterwards. My mom has had several scam attempts on her for money just in 2014...but so far she's called me for advice and we were able to stop her. It works for her only because she doesn't WANT to spend any money and is very paranoid that people are trying to cheat her....even normal business people like the grocery store clerks. So, I am in process of creating a plan to tell Mom that it's time for a caregiver. It will be a long hard and very negative fight....just like we went through with my Dad. He became angry and aggressive as his dementia progressed to where we had to call police and have him removed and then placed in a memory care facility. Mom is still mad and in denial about it and still think that her granddaughter 'had her husband taken away'....just because my daughter happened to be visiting from out of town when the crises occurred. It's all a very hard, stressful situation to live with day by day. I am just starting with a support group myself and I've been doing this from afar for almost 3 years. It IS like caring for a child much of the time. Mom is now moving into the seriously forgetful stage. Missed two MD appt's this week, because she thought it was a different day than it was. And when reminded that she was wrong...there is a LOT of anger now....and blaming me or others for not telling her right...or for something....it's very hard for her to admit she forgot or she got confused. You can see that she cannot handle any slight change in her routine, because its the routine that gives her a sense that she is functioning OK....but I think she is seeing every day that she is getting worse in certain ways. I don't blame her. I am 70 and I can see that I have more forgetfulness or tendencies to get distracted than I used to . I just pray to GOD it's NOT dementia with me too!!
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My suggestion, if there is very little conflict in your home it's best to keep him with you at home where he's happy with his family and bring in someone to assist him. Sounds like he may be far enough along where he needs someone around most of the time while you're at work because he could absolutely get into more trouble, or worst, begin to fall or get injured not being able to discern when he's in dangerous situations. You can look into adult day-care and the senior center if he would benefit and would like going there. My mom was at in independent living facility for seven years that she really liked, but as her dementia progressed and my sister who lived nearby spent less and less time with her...another story, we moved mom to assisted living but it was too late, she hated it and became so depressed after 90 days I moved mom in with me and she flourished again. Sounds like you have been getting good advice, money equals control in life so they often focus on these things as the brain changes. Chase was great with us, there is only so much the bank can do. At first I took mom to the bank with me and I made sure she knew it was her money but I would help her with everything, she knew she still had access to a small amount of money in her account and after a while she shifted into being happy knowing she was safe and loved and being taken care of again instead of worrying about her money and stuff. -Hope this is helpful.
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AL is assisted Living and NH is nursing home. SIL is sister in law, mil is mother in law, etc. Funny, huh?

Isn't easy, thanks for the tip about the limited card. Great idea. I am sorry that your dad lost all his money. What a sad story. No one would believe how easy it is for an elderly person to keep up appearances, to mask their problems, when in fact they are totally losing it.

You are right to question these cases of fully functioning ninety-year-olds.

Let me add that I made SURE my mother would not have a phone in AL. She made so many crazy calls--that had to stop.

Chloeb08, I am glad you found this list and I hope you take solace and find something to laugh about on this list. We really do need to keep a sense of humor.
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My guess is it's assisted living...
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Chloeb. AL is assisted living. I agree all the abbreviations can be frustrating. Finances was the first clue that I was in big trouble. My Chase bank however was awesome. Hubby would show up demanding to know where his money was. One of the bankers would intercept him when he could, they would sit and have a "visit" and Hubby would forget why he was there. What the bank could do for me was give me a call when he showed up and made transactions. This was a great help.
Only advice for the stage you are in is all the accounts in his name "MUST" be changed to your boyfriends name, such as phone, utilities etc.. Doing this will save you so much grief later on. See an elder attorney if you possibly can, they can keep you legally and financially on the best path.
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AL - Assisted Living

NH - Nursing Home
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AL stands for assisted living, and can be a real benefit to people in the early stages of dementia. Memory care is offered at some assisted livings, and that would be an important step with his dementia.
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How could this be possible if you have power of attorney? - and, indeed, how would it be possible if there were a shred of common sense in the bank's operating procedures. But well done, you've got on top of things very fast. AL usually means Assisted Living in this context. I still feel new too! - not sure the weird and wonderful surprises ever quite wear off... :/
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Isn'tEasy, wow you are speaking my story. Thank you! Hugs to you!
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What does AL stand for? Sorry.... still new :/
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Thank you everyone for the suggestions. Yesterday, we went and opened a new checking account in his name. We cancelled the Chase account so he will no longer have access to cards. He won't remember we did this though of course. Which worries me because I know when we leave the house he will walk over to Chase to try again. Our next step is to find a caregiver so the two of us can stay working at our jobs. I'm starting to learn that our lives must continue during all this chaos. This is all still so new to me. Thankfully, Mike (my boyfriend) and I will be attending a support group at the end of the month.
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When my mother first was having problems handling her money (checkbook not balanced, checks to marginal charities) she agreed to let me handle the checkbook and I left her with a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit. She was still living in an independent living retirement community 100 miles from me, so she needed to be able to make purchases. I made sure that she had "pocket money" each time I visited, which was about three times each month. This worked for a while, until she started giving the card number to phone solicitors. About that same time, she moved to assisted living, so she no longer needed the card.

Chloe, is there a way that you could "step down" his access to money or debit cards? Maybe your bf could open a new checking account to pay his father's bills, and leave just a small amount in the account that dad knows about. Make sure that the account does not have any sort of overdraft protection. That way, dad can only withdraw the amount of money in the account, and bf can add more money as necessary. Inability to handle money and reluctance to give up control is a common theme on this site. Its a fine line between maintaining the elder's dignity and protecting their assets, but there are so many people out there who are more than willing to relieve an elder of his money and sometimes you just have to make some unpopular moves.
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Been there, done that! In fact, it's almost a given now that we enter our declining years with an armload of drugs and a long list of procedures to keep us from dying before we're fully demented. As a society, we ought to be talking about this more.

My dad completely ran through his lifesavings before any of the other symptoms of his dementia became pronounced enough for us to notice. He now lives on less than $1400 a month without a single cent in savings. He never bought anything extravagant that might call attention to it and he lived very modestly. Most of the money went to the outrageous interest and fees on the dozens of credit cards he'd opened.

We finally took control of his finances, though it's an ongoing battle, and I got him a special card (there are several that are specifically designed for seniors with dementia) which he thinks of as a debit card. I load it weekly with his spending money. When it's gone, it's gone. He can't overdraw it.

You will find no friends at the bank. They refused to cancel his debit card even though I am a co-owner of the account.

One of the other consequences of deregulation (besides the financial meltdown) is the lack of protection for the consumer. In the not too distant past, my father's behaviors would have raised an eyebrow for someone at the bank who would have at least questioned it. Now, even with a few regulations back in place, they just lick their chops at the fees they get to collect as dad slowly loses his remaining grasp on his understanding of money. For example, he was paying a $3 overdraft fee plus a $2 ATM fee each time (at least 3x a week) that he tapped the ATM for $10. That's 50%!! He would have been better off going to a loan shark for the money! When you're making a withdrawal from an account with no money in it, the bank shouldn't be allowed to convert that into a loan without any of the normal protections involved in taking out a loan.

Dad was also allowed to take out a $20,000 unsecured personal load during the time when he had dozens of maxed out credit cards and less than $25,000 in annual income.

Whenever I hear my friends talk about how their parent (in their eighties) still manages all their own finances, I encourage them to sit down and have a serious talk.
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Oh, New2this, boy, does this all ring bells.

Well, as I said, the money issue was the real wake-up call for me. From that point on, it was just the slow agonizing trip to AL. But all is well now.

You are right, helping while respecting space is a very hard juggling act. My mom called the police on me, etc, etc. Fortunately, I had anticipated it and had gone to the police in advance to tell them what was going on. Tee, hee.

Now that my mother is a bit further down the dementia road, things are actually easier because she doesn't ask quite so many questions. Also, I have learned from the skilled care-givers to say only what she wants t o hear.

People say it is like taking care of a child and I suppose at some point it is. But at this point, where they are only half rational, it is like taking care of a child with a driver's license, checkbook, credit card, and the legal rights of an adult.

Good luck and please do keep us posted.
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OMGosh you guys, this caught my eye due to an experience yesterday. My Mom asked me to stop by her bank on the way to take her to a department store. Sure, no problem. Once inside she started filling out a deposit slip, although she wanted to make a withdraw. I was minding my own business, then realized what was up. The teller got her the right slip, ...it took her a really long time to fill that out. She got a huge pile of cash, as they counted it out to her she said "wow, look at the big numbers". Hugh? That is funny looking money, she said. (?) On way to car she told me she thought someone had been taking $ out of her account, so she took everything out for the month except the $ for an auto withdraw payment. (That I'm hoping that doesn't "bounce" due to big withdraw). She'd mentioned that in the last months, that she thinks someone is taking money out of her account, she thinks possibly the bank is, but she's got a debit card hooked to it that she uses online, so I'm thinking she's just forgetting her purchases. Then, she forgot where we were headed. I reminded her. Then she wanted me to go the opposite direction of the store, she's lived there for 10 years, should know where the store is. Forgot what she wanted in store, spent a long, long time looking at each item she remembered. Got up to check out, 1/2 checked out, super busy place, then wanted to go to the back of store and look at some groceries that just popped into her head, as if we could just do that midstream, and everyone would wait? Stepdad grocery shops for them, they are super well stocked, they have 5 of everything they need 1 of, but I offered to go look when we were checked out. No, never mind. Out in parking lot, "Hey, want some chicken?" "No, ...do you?" "No, but I want to buy you some chicken." (Hugh?) "No thanks Mom, I don't need any chicken." "But does your husband want some chicken?" (Double Hugh?) Back home, go to drop her off, then she says, "I wonder how much money I have in my checking account?". Yikes! I sense a lot of fun brewing. My stepdad has always kept his own accounts separate, for 30 years that's how they've done things. She doesn't medal with his, he doesn't medal with hers, but I think he's going to need to. She's super secretive about some things, I sense this is going to be a bad deal when Stepdad and myself have to start getting in the middle of some of these things. I hope no one is ripping her off, kind of doubt it, but she'd never figure it out if they were. Darn it. What a balancing act of giving respect and space while taking charge? I'm not looking forward to the coming years at all. Here you want to help them, show them that someone is in their corner, but looks like they may end up seeing you as the opposite?
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First, cancel the cards. Only have cards in your name. Since you informed Chase about his condition, they are responsible for replacing the funds, and if they do not, contact an attorney. Speak directly with the branch manager at Chase.
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As poa, your BF, should have the power to close the account and open a new one...in his fathers name of course. and his father will not know about. Your BF could be the only signor on the account. This may have to happen to protect him. this to protect his i
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OMG, Choeb08,

I am so sorry that you have to experience this. There is nothing like worrying that the alz/dementia patient is going to become a loose cannon financially. I do not have advice (besides talking to your lawyer again), not enough experience, but I can share what happened to me.

In fact, not understanding money was the first clue that here was something terribly wrong with my mother. Little did I know at the time that she had also stopped taking her meds--the rx ran out and she never refilled them. In any case, first, and that was just about 15 months ago, she no longer understood where to get cash. I was shocked. In retrospect, I now realize that she was, at that time, just coasting along on habit and routine but that she had already lost an understanding of most things. Then a few months later, she called the stock broker (thinking that he would send her money from her checking account!!!!!!!) and asked him to cut her a check for $30,000--for spending money. And here is the part where it gets interesting: everyone who spoke to my mom thought she was in her right mind. She sounded perfectly lucid. She told them at the brokerage that I was not giving her any spending money and they believed her. So they actually sold stock and sent her a check for $30K. To add humor to the story, she opened the envelope with the check and then forgot about it. When I came to pay the bills, I found the check, called the broker, explained that my mom had $72K in a non-interest-bearing checking account (the broker actually gasped!), and then I returned the check and they, graciously, put it back into the account and did not charge us any fees.

But that is not the only scary thing that happened with money. At around the same time, my mom asked me to take her to the post office--so I did. At the post office, she started to put a letter into the outgoing mail and said," I am closing my account with the credit union." I snatched the envelope and she started screaming,"It's my money!" I got her out of the P.O., took her home, and sat her down. I did not ask if she had lost her mind--that hadn't occurred to me yet. Here is the thing: both her retirement money from my dad and her SS check are deposited each month automatically into the account that she was about to close. You can imagine what she said when I asked her what her plans were for that money: she had no idea that she even received deposits. What a mess.

Everything happened very quickly after that. She called the Area Agency on Aging and told them that I was a terrible person who wanted her to live in AL. They volunteered to come and evaluate the situation and determined that she needed to be in AL immediately. And that is where she currently resides. Although we had taken her to the doctor frequently for check-ups, she needed a complete work-up in a Senior Behavioral Clinic. She got that and they fine-tuned her meds. She is quite content and has found a group of ladies who like to play bridge. I visit her about every day.

There are lots of other stories, like how she killed her dog, but I will save that for another day. Good luck and a big hug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Well, Power of Attorney is a pretty complicated concept. Read the document that establishes your BF's POA carefully. There may be some clues in it as to what it actually authorizes.

POA empowers someone to act on behalf of someone else. This can be while the principal can still do it himself but needs/wants a little help. For example, the principal may ask the POA to pay his bills out of his account. That does not mean that the principal can't also pay his own bills when he feels able to. Just that the POA agent has authority to do it.

Or the POA authority may not "kick in" until the principal is incapacitated. That would be spelled out in the document.

If Morris is in early stages of dementia then he is most likely not "incompetent" to make his own decisions. Chase does not have the responsibility or the legal right to monitor his behavior or decisions. If he wants 6 ATM cards, he is as eligible to get them as any other customer. His son cannot keep him from withdrawing and spending his own money. The bank can impose penalties on overdrafts, and otherwise treat Morris as they would any customer.

I understand how confusing this can all be, on top of trying to keep Morris safe while you both work. You could use some guidance! Is there a caregiver's support group you could join? Are there any classes in dementia that you could take?

Did an Elder Law attorney draw up the POA document? Perhaps he or she could refer you to a source of information.

As you know, dementia gets worse over time. You need to plan for when he will not be able to stay home alone all day.

Hugs to you ... this is hard!
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