Yesterday, she called a pest control company because there were yellow jackets around the front porch. Without realizing it, she paid in full over the phone with a credit card before the guy even came. Then she got mad at the woman, and herself, and ruminated on it for several hours. No soothing on my part did any good at all. One of my sisters suggested I just do things for her, but I have been working on setting boundaries, so I'm caught between a rock and a hard place! I never quite know what she can handle and what she can't. And if she really can't take care of herself in her condo, is it reasonable to think she can continue living there? She is not going to become more competent. To make it worse, my two sisters and I have shared POA, in which my lawyer says we have to act unanimously to exercise any power. As it stands now, I live the closest and do the most. I frankly feel like giving up. I am a widow as well, age 64, and I'm trying to maintain some sort of life of my own. I don't know if I can handle two lives and two homes. Any suggestions? I find this site so helpful!
Sadly, if you and your sisters are not in a position to keep up with taking over and handling her expenditures more directly, and having say a live-in caregiver for her, it sounds like time for her to be in an assisted living facility, of which there are alternatives in B&B style Residential Care homes mostly ran by RNs and Drs which are becoming popular and wide spread - not sure what area you are in, but here in the DFW, TX area we particularly have many.
My cousin's MIL just moved to one, and it has been a blessing for all, and she loves the "real house" setting, and small set of companionship with fellow residence in home, and she can enjoy the back yard, etc., well being fully cared and catered for. You might look into this option in your area.
All the best! Keep us posted!
So my sympathy is with Mother. The question is, how to protect her from making huge mistakes that could negatively impact her quality of life for years to come?
Is your lawyer a specialist in estate planning or Elder Law? If not, I wonder if getting a referral to such a specialist would be worthwhile.
Are you willing to take over Mother's finances?
Maybe "talking to your mother" should start with discussions about changing the POA so that one person is in charge. Only attempt this when she is in a good mood and a fairly stable frame of mind. It is Mother's decision. Would your sisters, who can't/won't be bothered with Mother's care right now, be willing to have this happen, and encourage your mother to make them back-up POA instead of co-POAs? I can't imagine how you can move forward making day-to-day financial decisions if all three of you have to agree on everything.
As for dealing with her outbursts, a difficulty is that she seems lucid and seems like a person able to reason, so you are naturally trying to reason with her. That doesn't work with people who are losing their ability to reason, and that sounds like where your mother is at. You could say, "Hmmm. You are right, Mother. That amount is less than it used to be. I'll call the financial planner in the morning and find out what is going on. ... Did you get any other interesting mail today?" In other words, humour her and diffuse the high emotional content. This usually works better if the person is also losing memory. Often people in this state won't remember to ask you tomorrow if you've talked to the financial planner. But if she does, I'd repeat what the planner said months ago. And if she insists on making her own calls? I think I'd have a little talk with the planner so he or she knows what to expect.
In other words, you are no longer dealing with a "normal" mom, and you'll have to learn new techniques of dealing with her, for her sake, and to retain your sanity.
I think I would be inclined to leave impossible conversations before they get to the point of you crying and your mother ranting. At the first sign that Mother isn't able to be rational on a topic, I'd try changing the subject, or simply leaving. "Mom, I can see that talking to me about this is very upsetting to you. I'll be going now, and maybe we can talk about it more tomorrow, after you've thought about it some more."
You are in a very hard situation, and not one of your own making or choosing. My heart goes out to you.
The accompanying problem is that the loved one doesn't know what she can and can't handle! You might set a guideline like "Mom, before you buy anything over $100, please call one of us first." But she'll be in a situation where someone is selling her a $1000 item over the phone or asking for a $500 donation, and she'll forget the guideline or she'll think it doesn't apply to donations, or she'll be in a defiant mood and think "my daughters don't own me." Sigh.
Since she was so upset at what she had done, maybe you could try establishing some guidelines that she agrees to, and see how that works out.
Know that often one of the first abilities to go is to handle finances. It may be that if someone steps in to handle that aspect for her she will be able to be independent in other ways and stay in her condo longer. But she'd have to give up her credit card, only have a checking account with a small balance, rely on an allowance of cash, etc.
Shared POA is the pits. Sorry. One in charge and two backups makes sense. Decisions by committee suck. Would Mom be willing to reconsider that, while she is still competent to?
As you and your sisters are considering what to do next, it is perfectly appropriate (and essential, really) that you each keep your own boundaries in mind. If someone needs to "just do it for her" that needs to match what someone is willing and able to do for her. While you are all busy making decisions for Mother, keep in mind your own needs and your rights to make decisions for your own lives.