Attempting to help manage finances with an elderly person with Dementia. Any advice?

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My Aunt's 88 yrs old with dementia and lives in her own home alone. I was appointed to be her Durable Power of Attorney. I'm also, her caregiver. My Aunt has control of her Checkbook and wont give it up. I tried many times asking her to let me hold-on to her checkbook for her but, she refuses. I don't live with her to know what all checks she writes. She banks at Chase, Chase Bank wont let POA's have access to online banking is what they told me. Inorder for me to see her bank transactions I have to drive to her bank personally to ask for a bank statement each time. That gets to be a pain and gas costly for me to do anymore. As I'm her POA it's my job to keep track of all spending she does and keep records.
The other day she received a 1099 tax paper in the mail stating an amount of $888.00 of what she made last yr. My Aunt thought it was a bill she owed. So, she wrote out a check for $888.00 and put it in the mailbox. Luckly I caught it before the mail man did.
Things like that is what I'm going thru with her. She feels she is paying her bills as if she doesn't need help doing so. But yet, she turns around calling me up to come over to help her with her bills because, she gets confused. She's the old school type that writes checks for everything and anything. She can be scammed very easy if someone would attempt to do so. A total stranger can obtain a $1000 personal check from her if they would attempt. And that's what I'm afraid of. Some stranger came to see her the other day asking for $100 and she wrote him a check is what she told me.
With her dementia causes her to forget what checks she writes. The other day she stated to me that (someone is getting into her checkbook and writing checks out. That's not my hand writing. But, yes it is her hand writing and those are checks she wrote. It's coming to the point to where she is starting to accuse me of writing out checks and I truely don't!...She's the only one that has her checkbook and sleeps with it at all times. She has dementia and taking pills for dementia. But, was never told incompatent by a doctor.
Here's another problem, If she would ever decide to let me hold-on to her checkbook? The next following day she will forget she did so and knowing her will call the cops on me. She forgets everything all the time. Everyday is like rewinding a tape to her. By her paying her bills on her own gives her independents. She always says there's nothing wrong with me I pay my bills. Half the time she does do a good job paying her bills I give her that. It's not the bill writing checks I'm worried about it's writing personal checks out to strangers and others is my main concern. Because, at the end of all of this I'm the main feller to be pointed to. How do I know where the money went when she writes the checks.
I look over her checkbook sometimes to see what bills she paid. Every check she writes it's her writing and her signature on every check. But, some how she has the nerve to accuse me of writing out checks until I rewind the tape and remind her she did write the checks. Everytime I go to see her I have to rewind her mind. How can I keep track of her spending as her POA if she don't give me her checkbook? And knowing her if she does ever decide to give me her check book. The next day she will forget she did so and call me a theft. I go to take care of her every other day. Everytime I go see her. And when I do go see her, She tells me I haven't been to see her in 2 weeks. Until I rewind her mind that I was their to see her yesterday. Then, she says oh, I'm sorry I forgot.
She don't get out much. When she needs cash for spending money I have her writeout a check for $300 Cash then, and I go to the bank and cash it for her and sign as POA. I do this about once a month or so for her. Some how she's always short on cash. Money comes missing and I don't know why. Sometimes I wonder if she is either hiding money or giving someone money. She sure don't give me a dime for what all I do for her. She put me in her Will. She says I get it all when she dies. House and all she says.Ya right!...I think she would rather burn it all before giving any to me.I don't get any reinbursement of my spending for caregiving for her. Cost me over $100 per month just in gas not counting other cost. She feels since I'm in her Will I don't need to be reinbursed. Ya right wait till she dies. I tell her she may out live me!..So many elderly people use Wills to obtain free help it's not funny. I call it a hook!. They sink their hooks into you to obtain free help. She don't have much assets. If medicaid would ever get involved bye bye to it all. I'm not Joint on her accounts.
Thanks for hearing my venting. I need advice?

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Hi dogabone,
I remember my mother paying for every public broadcasting fundraiser, even though she already paid once a year. Fortunately they were wonderful when I called them and asked to be taken off their list. She could afford once a year and enjoyed the programs, so that was fine. However, every time they had a pledge drive, she'd want to pay again, asking me if I'm sure we were paid.

I'm telling you this only because I want you to know that you aren't alone. People with dementia often can’t remember what they paid, so they pay again. As you say, they are sitting ducks for scams. My mom once charged $1000 worth of magazines. Fortunately, I was able to stop payment on this.

You are fortunate that your aunt assigned you POA. That will help. Try to have bills taken out of her account so they don't go to the house. Maybe other mail can be routed to you so that you can just give her the fun things. Make sure she's on a do not call list for the phone. You can even get her an unlisted number and only give it to friends.

I'm not sure that you can do much more - frustrating as it is. However, watch for a time when you can take over the bill paying and then do it.
This is all going to be hard, but do what you can for now. This part should get easier but, of course, there will be other challenges.

Please keep checking back for support.

Carol
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My husband is POA for his mother. All her accounts now read Her name, Husband's name POA. I have urged many to get a neuro/psycology evaluation done. It is about a 2 hour test. The professionals are able to test the person in areas we don't see. This will establish if she is competent to handle her finances. It is obvious she is not. It will empower your decision making when you realize you have done the right thing to know how to best care for her and her finances. It is hard for a person to relinquish their independance. She soon will forget about that. My husband even had to have her mail forwarded to our home. Once you have established her incompetance you request the copy of the eval. You will find it easier to do many transactions in her behalf...... Its hard enough to have to take on all this you are doing. Then to have resistance every step of the way makes a hard job harder...... we've been there!
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Here's what I did. I'm moms DPOA and although she has dementia she isn't incompetent and same as your aunt...refuses to give up her finances and let me manage. For the most part, she does pretty well, but has gotten into trouble with her checking. Here is what I did.

I had her account numbers, so I set up on-line banking without her knowledge. I used my email and set up a passcode to set it up. Then I took some of the most important recurring bills and set up as on line payees. I had those bills electronically sent to me and then I would pay for her via online banking from her account. I set up most of her income checks as automatic deposits. I let a few small income dividend checks come to her so she would still feel like she was getting something. Now I can monitor her checking, including viewing any checks she writes to make sure everything is in order and alert if there are checks out of the unusual and ensure she isn't bouncing any. Further I set her up with overdraft protection. The bank sends her monthly bank statements as they've always done.

She only asked a few times what some of the auto draft means and I just told her "oh, power company doesn't accept checks anymore, they draft your account cause you've been such a good customer to save you from having to use a stamp", "oh, your health insurance has to come directly now, they don't accept checks".

Someone else talked about elder stashing money all over, and my mom does that. I had one check auto deposited and she pitched such a fit about needing that "cash", I gave up and let her have it. I know she cashes it or worse, squirrels away the checks uncashed and this worries me, but I can't do anything with her. A year ago, I found $3500 in uncashed checks lying around.

Good luck.
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Dogabone: Welcome to MY WORLD! Isn't it a nightmare? I too have and still do live with the same exact situation that you presently have. My only difference is that the woman I care for is my mother.

Mom and Dad years ago made a Trust and my father died in 2006 so we had it updated about 2-3 years ago. I have been living in her house since the end of 1997 due to an illness I suffered. In that time I have cared for my Aunt, Father, Brother in Law and now Mom. I had never been DPOA for anyone prior to my mother so all of this has been a gut wrenching experience!

I left her house one day to run to the garden center and was back in 30 minutes. I found a man at the door taking money from my mother and her signing paperwork from him, which would have allowed them to monthly remove money from her checking account. I stopped it! Later that evening however she said to me, "What was in that bag that I gave that man today?" I thought I was going to throw up! I began asking what bag Mom? Can you remember where you got it from? After about 20 questions I realized it was fruitless and I would never know what she had indeed given him OR if she had given him a bag at all.

This scared me enough that I called my sisters and told them what was happening and that I was going to ask for POA. Mom could say NO to no one and telemarketers called her numerous times a day. I was Mom's caregiver and had paid her bills for her for many years, so it only seemed the next logical step.

I did finally get POA and it then became a test of wills that I finally had to just take the checkbook and refuse to give it back. I simply "took over" and made sure all bills were paid and written in Mom's book, as well as groceries, tithe, gifts, etc. It has NOT BEEN EASY and to this very day, I ONLY BALANCE THE CHECKBOOK AT NIGHT AFTER SHE HAS GONE TO BED! The mere mention of the checkbook sends her into another fury and wanting it back. When she gets ready to go to the doctor she becomes frantic "needing" her checkbook and I just tell her Medicare and her secondary insurance pays the entire bill, no checkbook is required.

I do have my name on all of her accounts, as should you. You need to get the POA papers and go down to Chase very nicely dressed, and tell them that you are the Power of Attorney for your Aunt.... and you are here to have your name and title (POA) added to her accounts. When you Aunt becomes worse (really even now) you need to be the person taking care of paying her bills and make sure you do A VERY GOOD JOB OF IT!

I have to warn you that you cannot take any of her money for your own personal use. No buying yourself a car, or clothes or anything else, this money is meant to be spent on your AUNT ONLY. Any you need to keep very good records of where the money is going.

I say this because IF your aunt should need to go into a nursing home in the future, she will most likely need to go onto Medicaid and they do a 5 year look back at where every cent has been spent. If it has been spent frivolously they they count that as a type of penalty against her and will not pay her bills. So be very careful with where and how her money is spent.

Also back to the bank, not all banks will accept your POA. We have banked with Bank of America for probably over 50 years and they would not accept my POA. My was made by our attorney and is legal, but the Bank of America is notorious for doing this to people and the only way I could get them to accept it would be to sue them. They know they are in the wrong and they would have to actually pay the expenses of the lawsuit but, I chose to remove my Mom's money and move it to another bank.

I do not know what state you are in and if you need to get a letter saying your Aunt is incompetent or not, in California you do not have to, I just stepped in and wrestled it away from Mom before she could do more damage and told her this is the way it was going to be from now on. It is not easy by any means.

You mentioned your aunt calling the police on you, perhaps you need to stop by the police station and have a talk with a community relations liaison and ask what you should do to prevent this from happening. I was also told that I should go see an elder law attorney who could discuss with me what i should and should not do and what a POA was responsible for.

Good Luck, I know this is hard!!!
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Hi dogabone, I hear ya! I am now handling my mother's finances, and like your aunt, my mother has dementia and is living alone. Like you, I am her POA, and although she gave me this responsibility, she refuses to give me the the authority to do what needs to be done. The suggestion to get your aunt's mail forwarded to you is excellent. I did this as well, and you can do this online, without any authorization needed from your aunt. Do it today - here's the website: moversguide.usps/icoa/home/icoa-main-flow.do?execution=e1s1&_flowId=icoa-main-flow&
When you're at her house, if you can get her out of your sight for a moment, take her yet-to-be-processed mail and bring it home with you to take care of. Begin setting up files for all of her acounts (banking, credit cards, investments, pension, social security, household bills, health/medical, medicare, taxes, auto, whatever else). As her mail begins coming to you, you'll be able to gather information.
If you know where her files are at her home, help yourself to her most recent bank statements, credit card bills, household, utilities, tax returns--everything, and bring them home.
If she'll let you (or if you can do this without her seeing), note every card (i.d., credit card, medical card) in her wallet and take down ALL the numbers -- driver's license too, along with expiration dates, security codes on the back, everything. You can begin to set up online profiles with her social security info (from tax returns) and the credit card numbers.
FYI -- go online to medicare.gov and add yourself as someone who is authorized to speak on her behalf. I discovered this by happenstance, and when a billing issue came up, I was so grateful to have taken care of this.
If she has an accountant, contact him/her and let them know to go through you.
Find a simple password keeper app and begin to log in ALL of the password information for everything! Believe me, you'll need it.
If you can take any extra checks home with you, do so. Once you begin handling things, it will take a while for her to run out of the checks she has.
Add her phone number to the Do Not Call list, and even though you'll be getting her mail, add her mailing address to the No junk mail list (look for these websites/phone numbers online). This will minimize the junk mail you'll get.
I hope I don't sound like a criminal--believe me, I'm not. This took me around 3+ months of daily work, and there are still straggling items that come in that I need to handle, but I feel much more on top of things, and my mother is much less vulnerable to con artists and scams.
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I have some of the same issues with my mother with dementia. She appointed me POA about a year before these things started happening. After many conversations, and broken promises from her about writing checks, I wrote a letter to her doctor explaining that she was being victimized by fraudulent organizations (true), and gave several examples of her incompetence with money. I asked the doctor to give me a simple letter stating she was no longer competent to handle her financial affairs so that I could utilize my POA. The doctor complied with my request so I have that for my file. MY POA is a durable (not springing) so I did not really need it, but it is a backup for my actions. I then physically took the checkbook, records, insurance policies, investment statements, everything I could get my hands on, went to the banks, added my name as POA, sent copies to all accounts and had my name added as POA. I access her bank account online and pay all her bills and handle everything. I still have a problem with her sending cash to "charities" through the mail. Of course, all this made her mad as blazes, but it was for her own good. She could not afford the money she was giving away to bogus organizations. I see it as my obligation as her POA. It is still difficult, but I stand firm in what I am doing because it is for her own good. I want her money to be there for her as long as she needs it and if I wasn't managing it, it would disappear. Read your POA carefully, and start the necessary steps. Do what you have to do. If it is durable, (not springing), then you already have the authority you need. Try to get a letter from her doctor regarding her competence, otherwise, she might revoke your POA. wishing you the best.
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I have been there with my mother since 2009, I`m her POA, and have been handling her affairs all this time. It is very hard and frustrating to deal with all the phone calls to set things up for her not to mention tons of paperwork and appointments to go to on her behalf. I believe all of that would of gone alot smoother if not for my two sister constantly accusing me of being in control of mom instead of seeing it that way and putting bad ideas in my mothers head. I have no use for them, sad but true. My mom has early dementia, bipolar, and has NPD, narcissistic personality disorder among other physical issues. It`s been hell to say the least! I sure would like to hear similar stories, has anyone else been there?
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Dogabone: I have access to my mothers bank accounts and online banking and here is the difference in what you are going through and what happened to me.

Mom and I both banked at the same bank (Bank of America). I had her put on my savings and checking because I was ill in 1997 and my daughter was too young. I was doing her and my father's banking for them so she put me on her checking account. When my father died, she had me put on her savings and checking accounts as well as my sisters. Because we were on each others accounts we were able to go into online banking and see these accounts and what was going on in them.

So for you to do this, you would most likely have to open an account at her bank and have her sign on to your account BUT you would also need to get her to sign you onto her account. You may need to reason with her and tell her that this is just in case she should get worse, you will need to be able to take care of her bills for her and if she hasn't signed you on, you will not be able to help her. Keep reassuring her it is for future use.

Sometimes I honestly wonder why they even bother with POA's as so many banks give you so much grief over them and some banks won't accept them if they are over 5 years old! Now what sense does that make? The person you are caring for is mentally ill, so 5 years in you are going to cut their POA off????

Your loved one is ill and her confusion and indecision all stems from the dementia. It will not get better with time, it will worsen so you need help or to ask her doctor to please state she has reached the point of incompetence. You will have to be very careful and keep very good records for her, this is a difficult job.
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I also struggle with similar situations. I found something recently that will help a little with mail, as some accounts MUST have the "home" address and not the PO Box or other. Check out "Informed Delivery" service from USPS at informeddelivery.usps.com. You will receive emails containing grayscale images of the outside mailpieces. If you are a POA, you should be able to set this up legally so you can monitor incoming mail and know what to watch for to ensure things were not thrown away. It's one small step for us in our efforts to manage the accounts of those we love who have dementia, Alzheimer's or just plain forgetfulness that comes with age.
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I thank all of you for your advice.Dealing with a elderly person with dementia and sometimes hateful to others I am open to any free advice.I will try to reply back to you all.
To sunflo2,You stated,(I had her account numbers, so I set up on-line banking without her knowledge)My Aunt banks thru Chase Bank.I tried setting up online banking.Chase denied me access to online banking.Chase told me that POAs is not allowed to have access to online banking.How you was able to do so without her knowledge brings questions because,that is her bank account.I was told POAs are not allowed to be joint either.My Aunt with her dementia forgot her 4 dight Pin for her debit card.I called the bank as her DPOA asking if I can change the pin number.Her bank told me NO.Only she can do that.Because,it's her account not yours is what I was told.So,for you to say without her knowledge.That brings questions to me.Unless your joint then I can see how you did it.
As to pstegman,Thanks ya,she may just out live me lol.Bottom of the "paid bills" stack you say?My Aunt goes thru her bill stack 10 times a day.Regardless she would find the bills at the bottom if I would attempt.
To looloo,
Her bank has my DPOA paperwork on file already.I was told by many attorneys and people here on this site that POAs are not allowed to be joint.For many reasons,as if you the POA owes to bill collectors those collectors can go after the account that you hold joint to.Another reason is if Medicaid would ever have to get involved.Who's money is whos?A debate it will be with Medicaid.
I thought about having my aunt's mail forwarded to me.I'm just affraid to do that without her knowing and what I will have to go thru if she found out I did.It's hard for me to do because,I'm not a behind the back kind of person but,I understand what your explaining to me.It's sad things must be done this way inorder to make this job easier for me.I hold a 40 hr plus week factory job and POA & Caregiver all at the same time.Would be nice to have online banking to make this easier.But,Chase Bank doesn't work that way for me.They deny me online access.I became my Aunt's DPOA because,her attorney felt she needed one.Because,her past caregivers went bad,beat her up and about drained her dry.
I felt sad for my Aunt and agreed to this DPOA.Now I wish I never did.I wasn't aware of all the loopholes & downs this poa is causing me.A bigger job then what people say it is.I never was a accountant or a recorder.When I first got this DPOA I gave it to her bank.I asked the banker what this DPOA is?He told me I now have control of my Aunt's life basically.You now have full access to her accounts.Shouldn't full access mean access to online banking?
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