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Mom put me on her credit union accounts years ago when she stopped driving so that I could do her banking for her. I ask her several times a year whether she wants to change that and she always says I'm the only one she can trust (my siblings are both irresponsible with money). Her SS is direct deposited and any checks that come in from pension or investments, I deposit for her. When she entered memory care 3 years ago, she asked me to bring her $200 a week in cash, which I did because it IS her money and who am I to tell her she can't have it? I figured she wanted it for lunches and shopping with the facility. I stopped her credit cards and did not give her blank checks at the recommendation of the care facility.


My sister took her to a medical appointment and, when looking for Mom's insurance card in her purse, found almost $1000 in cash. She told me and I stopped bringing money to Mom for a couple of months, explaining that I knew she hadn't spent what she had. When she started again asking for money, I brought $100 a week. As her dementia has progressed, she has begun losing money. She declares it to be stolen from her, and it is possible that it was, but more probable that she spent or misplaced it. The problem is, she keeps asking me to bring her more. When I suggest that she keep less money to avoid it being stolen, she gets angry. I tried explaining that the facility does not want her to have large amounts of money lying around her room or in her purse. There is a footlocker in her room that she and I have the keys to and she wears the key around her neck. She locks her purse in there (when she remembers) and several "valuables," such as her candy, snacks, some prized sweaters, her camera, and some costume jewelry. I keep a debit card for her account that she uses for purchases on our weekly shopping trip. The hairdresser at the facility sends me a monthly bill, which I pay from Mom's account. I understand that she feels destitute without ANY money, but on the other hand, she is vulnerable to unscrupulous staff, dementia addled residents who toss her room regularly, and her own forgetfulness. She thinks I'm just being mean and trying to take what is hers. Not sure how to proceed.

Sometimes you can bring smaller bills, as they really don't grasp the denominations any more. Like bring her $20 in ones, and $20 in 5's and she will think she has a lot of money. Tell her, "You really don't use more than $40 in a week and this will keep "them" from taking it. My inlaws mow through graham crackers and whenever they leave a half eaten package out in the main living area, the custodians will throw it away (it's not marked) They tell us it was "stolen" all the time.
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Reply to DILKimba
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AlvaDeer Sep 9, 2019
I really like this idea, and in any case would surely keep her counting.
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I'm not at all sure that any ethicist would support me on this, but can you "recycle" the cash you bring her? So that you duly turn up with (some amount in small bills) as she asks, but you also discreetly remove the same or more from her existing kitty and keep it safe for next time.
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lablover64 Sep 12, 2019
Not a bad idea. However, she's pretty shrewd where money is concerned. I thought about getting some realistic looking play money but worried that she'd actually try spending it. I also thought about marking the bills with a highlighter to maybe deter theft. I may try giving her a lot of ones and maybe a couple fives and tens to make it look like she has more. Not sure whether she'll be fooled, but it's worth a try.
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From my family’s experience having my mother in what we considered an excellent facility, the locker for your mother is useless. No matter how good the place or the staff, there is always room for the dishonest and unscrupulous, having something locked just calls out to them. The key around her neck is no challenge with an elderly person, much less a dementia patient. All that stated sadly, just the reality of it. Keep the locker for candy and other things of no value only. As for the cash, others here have used fake cash that looks very real, I haven’t dealt with this as yet, so I’m not sure where it comes from, but hopefully someone will let us know. You’re very correct to be concerned and know that her having all this cash is a bad plan
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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I am worried here. If all her needs are taken care of how can she conceivably be wanting as much as 200.00 a week, and what in the world is there to spend it on. I am very afraid that Mom may be giving money away.
I think your answer that the facility is no longer allowing this amount of cash to be kept is wonderful, and I would engage them in a "therapeutic lie" to tell her this with you. Even a lock box can be carried right out. Clearly something has made this whole cash thing important to her, in her dementia, but it isn't realistic. This is a LOT of money.
You say you are both on Mom's accounts. I hope that you are her POA. It isn't necessarily a good thing to mix and meld the names on Mom's money for record keeping and the future. More qualified than me (Tacy, for instance) could likely explain the reasons why, but I would pass by an attorney how best to handle this.
Good luck.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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She is living in the "before care" world, and $200.00 was probably OK with her.  At my dad's facility, no money is needed, and he never carries any - they add all charges on to the monthly rent.  However, with dementia, my mother, who passed away years ago, just wanted money in her wallet.  It really didn't matter the denomination.  We made sure she had 2 - $1.00 bills.  I don't think she could even count it - it truly didn't matter, but just made her less anxious.  (Probably a trait left over from the depression generation.)  I think her facility would agree the less money she has the better.
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jacobsonbob Sep 12, 2019
I one has, for example, ten well-circulated $1 bills, they will look nice and fat inside a wallet. A $5 may give the bearer the impression of considerably more wealth (that is, more than just the extra $5 itself).

However, one must keep in mind that a sum regarded as trivial by one person may be considered significant by another, especially if the latter is a petty thief or a drug addict, so it still should be guarded carefully. (For example, a desperate person may attack or kill someone for that amount, although hopedly this wouldn't be an issue in an AL or NH.)
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In the 2 LTC facilities my MIL was in they had a Resident Trust account for each person. Tell your mom you have set that up for her and if she needs anything she will have the money in that account to pay for it. If her facility doesn't have a resident trust I'd be very surprised.

Learning our LOs' dementia behaviors is a constant creative adjustment, but (respectfully) going forward you and sister will need to scrutinize things your mom asks you to do. Giving her cash in a NH is very ill-advised as sometimes theft is a "crime of opportunity"...too tempting to someone who may not have been planning it. Maybe someone in the NH is telling your mom to ask for the money??
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lablover64 Sep 12, 2019
She actually used another patient's cell phone to call me one day. She has a phone in her room that I pay $25 a month for but, for some strange reason, she wouldn't use it. That patient (also with dementia), told her she owed him $20 for the call. I told her NOT to give him $20 and reported the incident to the facility nurse but I can't say with any certainty that she didn't give it to him.
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Stop bringing her money. Give her a prepaid debit card and only put a very small amount on it - maybe $25. Tell her that her money is on the card and for her to call you about needs for anything. If the card is regularly "getting lost" then give her cards without any money on them.
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Reply to Taarna
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I went through something like this with mom. When she asked me for more money, we would count how much she had and then "top it off." Having her count the money was also a way to assess her functional memory. There were occasions in which she misplaced cash, but mostly it worked. I also kept emergency cash in a unmistakably identifiable wallet hidden away. If something prevented me from being able to bank for her, I could direct her to the wallet so that she didn't run out. Never had to use it, by the way. Luckily, all of her home health aides were dependable and honest. My grandmother had more severe dementia and at one point had to move into long term care. When we were cleaning out her house, we discovered money tuck at regular intervals under the the whole length of the carpet runner in her hall, and paper money wrapped in kleenex (appearing like trash) by her bedside. Sometimes, paranoia occurs with dementia, so she may be hiding her money. Look under the mattress, chair cushions, and similar spots. Oh dear. It is so hard to find that balance between dignified independence and necessary assistance.
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Reply to lynina2
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Ask the facility if they have a trust account system where money is deposited in trust for her with the bookkeeper - my mom's place had this & we referred to it as the small on site bank - she would get money out for outings & would deposit what she didn't spend when she came back - she kept change in her purse but no large bills - she liked being able to go to the 'bank' herself -

The tuck shop was there too but as she was diabetic I provided small chocolate bars that they gave & 'charged her account' - she would often buy one for a friend too & they would have great fun with their treats

As mom got further it was just having something in her purse not the amount - much like a young child would rather have 4 nickels than a quarter because then it was 4 monies not 1 so she may get to where 3 $5s are more important than a $20
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Reply to moecam
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The MC community where I work asks the POA whether the resident is allowed to have cash, and most are NOT. There is no need for cash in such an environment, and I would tell your mother it's no longer permitted. My own mother lives in MC and she has $20 to her name at any given time, never more. It's never a good idea to have large sums of cash in such an environment for a myriad of reasons. Let common sense prevail, and your mom will eventually come around.
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