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My parents were always very comfortable financially. She enjoyed spending money both on herself and her extended family. She was in a serious accident twenty years ago and my father became her sole caregiver. He had an excellent pension and savings so even after the accident, they had a comfortable life although their savings were dwindling, until my father died a little over two years ago. My mother had to go into a nursing home as she requires a high level of care and her savings are evaporating quickly. I have POA and had to take away all credit cards and her phone as she would spend money on frivolous things or send money to distant relatives. Every time I visit, she insists she has money, wants to give it away and gets very angry when I stop her. I haven't told her she has no money as I know this would drive her into a deeper depression, but I can't allow her any access to her remaining money.
Should I be honest and let her know she has no money, regardless of her reaction, to avoid her anger which is focused on me?

Yes, you need to tell her -- if she's competent to understand. You needn't treat her like a child just because she's infirm and you handle her finances for her. She also needs to stop spending like a teenager with Dad's credit card, so it'd be good for both of you to have an adult conversation together.
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Reply to MJ1929
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Good Morning,

Sometimes when you are sick in a NH, dementia, etc. too much info for them can be a problem. They can't process it.

This is what I do...we are average people but most people in my social circle don't have mega money but they are responsible and life happens.

I simply hold my mother's hand and tell her whatever you need we will get for you. It could be pajamas, a new hairbrush, new shoes, etc. Basically you don't have to give them a lot of info. I am from a large family with a lot of kids. When dad was living the financial picture was different. After dad passed very suddenly when I was in Grad School, ironically, today, on Mother's Day I told Mom she can no longer afford to plop down a lot of money baking a spiral ham, etc. and the grandkids come for Sunday Dinner and take a few bites and my sister-in-law thinks she's doing us a favor by showing up. The next generation did not take over the tradition because sports has taken over. That subject could be another whole forum.

Things change--you have to curb the spending of gifts for the grandchildren. These kids have everything, have been everywhere and really don't appreciate anything you send them anyway. I'm lucky if I get a thank you note.

My mother was always very generous too. So I tell Mom I dropped some canned goods and pasta off at the Church Food drop box. This makes her think she is helping people even though her money is tight. If there is a School Supply Drive at Church, I do the same thing, coat--mitten drive, we participate. They want to contribute and think they are helping others. Perhaps, you could pick up a dozen of donuts for the staff at the NH and tell them your mother wanted them to have this! It's doesn't have to be a million dollar donation to build a new wing.

Next, the Supermarkets are a great place to buy flowers. For the Holidays buy plants on sale at the hardware store, etc. and pass them out as "house gifts". You don't have to go cold turkey and stop altogether. People understand the elderly in a NH can't get out but they don't want to be forgotten. They want to be kept in the loop...

I had to tell my mother--this is our budget, this is what we can do. You have to dress these things up a bit. I think telling a people in a NH home they have no $$$ will frighten them and weaken their spirits. When I go to the Dollar Store, I always know before I walk in I have buying power.

I think you get my message. I am in the same boat but my mother does not go without a thing. The next generation my parents' have been more than generous to and it's time to plug the hole in the dike. In other words, stop the spending.

Basically just tell your Mom that all of her needs will be provided. You can acknowledge birthdays' with cards in the U.S. Mail and ecards. The one's you think need a little help in the family, that's different. It's a personal choice.

Things change and you have to face reality but don't give them too much information. Holding their hand and reassurance is the best thing! Letting them know that everything is being taken care of and they don't have to worry about a thing.
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Reply to Ireland
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How about a "therapeutic fib"?

"I'll have to talk to the bank manager about sending that money ".

"Mom, you're short thus month, let's wait until your SS check comes in".

"The market is down right down, we don't want to sell any stocks right now".
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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If you think there is a chance she would understand, I think you ought to be honest, however not brutal about it. You also need to come up with a good story and stick to it and plan on repeating it over and over from different angles.

My Mom lived her life through money. It gave her power. She used it as a bribe to get things done.

My Mom was a fall risk so she needed someone by her 24x7. We got help from an agency that was fairly priced for 9 hours a night. During the day, she would go to senior care. The rest of the time, she was with me. When I added up all the expenses after a quarter, I was shocked. I projected she had enough money for 5 years.

We didn't tell her immediately because we thought she would die before the year was out. She didn't.

During this time, we also had an incident where Granddaughter wrote a check for a bill, and my Mom signed her name. About a month later, I wrote a check for the same bill, and my Mom signed her name. I caught it while I was entering it in the checkbook. My Mom had no knowledge of the previous check. At this point, my brother and sister decided that no one writes a check except me.

My Mom was pissed. She tried to get my sister to write a check for her and my sister declined. She asked my brother if he needed money and he said he'd ask his secretary (his wife). She got her favorite grandchild to write a check to herself for a large sum of money after favorite grandchild wrote checks out to other people also. I caught the checks after they were cashed. I told my sister what her child had done and let my sister deal with it. My Mom liked to go shopping with cash. She would spend it and say the caregivers were stealing her money. At year end, I accounted for where Mom's money went and let my sister and brother know. My Mom was spending it down faster than the 5 year projection.

Since my mother liked talking to my brother about finances and the cost of things, he brought up the subject that she was going to outlast her money. She didn't believe us and got angry at us for making her upset.

Anytime we talked finances or the cost of goods, we told her that going to a home was less expensive than staying in her home. Eventually she quit being mad and started asking questions. One of which was what was "what was going to happen to her home since she really wanted the grandchildren to have it". I told her that if we didn't find other sources of income, we would have to sell the condo to pay for her care.

After 7-8 months, she finally started realizing that she shouldn't give out money out as freely as she did. The only issue was the granddaughter who had a job, but felt obligated to take money from Grandma when offered.

Now that Mom has moved into MC, she talks about finances and how are we going to pay for the AL. I tell her "you have enough to live on for the rest of your life however you do not have excess money to give away"

So yes, I would level with your Mom. Show her totals. Do not get too detailed. Do not tell her she has no money. Tell/Show her how her expenses are being paid. Be prepared for anger and crying or no reaction. Be prepared to tell her what you have had to do to get the expenses in control. Try not to put the blame on her for the lack of money. Plan to repeat the same story over and over again possibly from different angles. Try to use a calm, matter-of-fact voice.

It will be an uncomfortable conversation. However, if you present it correctly, it could open up a whole new conversation on finances with her rather than the bundle of money emotions that it is causing right now.

I wish you the best of luck.
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Reply to ChoppedLiver
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You mention in your profile that mom has dementia.
You can not reason with her.
No explanation you give will have any meaning to her. And if it does, if she understands now she won't tomorrow.
So tell her...
Oh, mom I forgot the cards today, I will bring them next time I come.
Mom, the battery on your phone died and I left it charging on the counter.
Mom, you ran out of checks, I ordered them but it will be about a week before they come in.
Sure she will be angry.
Try not to let it upset you.
If she starts to get upset tell her you have to leave and leave. Even if you just got there. Do not engage in the anger just go.

Have you applied for Medicaid on your mom's behalf?
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Clairesmum May 9, 2022
great suggestions for responses that don't provoke confrontation and generate distress! I also think that having a few 'favorite topics' so you can easily redirect your loved one to a different and pleasant topic helps avoid getting stuck on the topic of money.
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Your profile says Mom has a Dementia so telling her will really not sink in. You were wise in taking those things away. Really, upon entering a NH there was no need for them anyway.

Money seems to big a big thing for people who suffer from dementia. With my Mom it was, "We need to talk". She kept telling me someone in her AL needed money. I would tell her that they have their own families who can give them money. Anyone else would be an employee and they should not be asking, I was not comfortable in her having any money on her person. Her Dementia had progressed where I did not feel it was fair to the staff to take her out shopping.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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If she has dementia your “honesty” will be a lost cause.

Her depression is likely to be related more to the dementia itself than to what she thinks, or you tell her about, “her” finances.

It is OK to tell her that her banker is going to check on what funds she has available, that she has to wait until her interest is compounded, that she will need a new passbook, that you haven’t time to get to the bank………………ETC.

If she gets mad, you shrug your shoulders and tell her it’s not your fault.

The anger she focuses on you is inappropriate. You give her a big hug, tell her you love her and that you’ll see her tomorrow and leave.
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Reply to AnnReid
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If she has cognitive or memory impairment: no. There's no point because she won't remember and you'll have to re-tell her and she'll re-experience her anger and anxiety and/or she won't really be able to comprehend it or come to grips with budgeting or solutions.

If you sincerely think she has full ability to grasp the news, I think you will need to go in there armed with a printed budget (if you have an Apple laptop you can use the Numbers app to easily create a graphic depiction which includes a pie chart). And you will need to show her the actual bills from the facility because she's probably not aware of the costs, having never really lived in a budget.

I also agree with using a common enemy, such as the "financial advisor" or "accountant" who is reining in spending.
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Reply to Geaton777
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LakeErie May 8, 2022
Dementia patients have no ability to understand budgets or pie charts or bills or any of that.
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Tell her the truth. That she has some money and it must LAST and you are in charge and you will SEE TO IT that it lasts as long as it possibly can. Thank goodness you have taken over. I would tell her exactly what she has. When I was POA for my brother I gave him a monthly accounting of every penny in and every penny out of his Trust, and Estate and I gave him monthly totals of cost, interests, accounts and etc. He has had a small spending account of his own of 5,000.00 which he only --amazingly--grew!
Let Mom see it in black and white. Tell her it is there to support her for so long as you can make that last.
If she chooses to be angry, well, then she will be angry. That is a shame for her. But you are doing your job. Tell her you will be going home, as you have a lot of files and accounting and work to do. That you will stay longer when she's in a better mood.
Lies never work. And they are CRUEL. Tell her the truth, gently. You will just have to live through her reaction and go on. YOU are doing the RIGHT THING, and you KNOW that. That's the only one who NEEDS to know it. Don't expect her thanks for it. You won't get it.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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dear OP, hug!! :)

it's only my opinion: definitely tell your mother she has no money. it's her money, she has a right to know her financial situation. and if she knew the reality, she wouldn't need to spend her energy being angry at you. no one enjoys being angry (regarding a factual fix-up).

hug! tell her.
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Reply to bundleofjoy
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