She lives on her own and is okay driving herself as long as it’s her usual pattern: church, gym, grocery store. I am on her checking account and also a medical POA so I have access to monitoring her finances and can stay in the loop from her doctor visits. She writes lots and lots of checks to political and charity groups every month, totaling near $1000. She has a backup account and is drawing from it to support this check writing. I don’t live with her so I can’t monitor her outgoing mail. I’m at a loss what to do. Her testing diagnosis was not dementia as we thought. How do I put a stop to this without completely taking over guardianship, which is more than I can handle at this point?

I took over my dad’s finances minus his knowledge or permission while he has hospitalized. He was of sound mind but also contributing to way too many charities, they buy each other’s mailing lists and seem to prey on the elderly. I had POA but never actually used it. As I was on his banking, I went to the branch he used, changed the accounts to online delivery of statements to my email. I forwarded all his mail to my home and changed all his bills to online delivery to me. I made a binder spelling out all his bills and when and how much they were paid each month. I wrote some of the charities a final check along with a threatening sounding note saying dad was a sick old man and they were to never contact him again, which surprisingly worked. When dad came home I expected an explosion as he was very proud of handling his own finances. I warned my siblings, and they were in agreement, said it should have happened sooner as we all knew it had gotten overwhelming to dad. Instead of the explosion, dad was relieved and very happy to see the binder and how everything was paid. In truth, I had no real power to do this, but it couldn’t have worked out better. Sometimes people are hesitant to admit they need or even will accept help, and when pushed a bit, they’ll surprise you with gratitude. And yes, I’m aware it could have gone another way
Helpful Answer (15)
Reply to Daughterof1930

You list this under ALZ and Dementia - This is what I did - I casually put my name on my daddys account, had all bills paperless, had all mail redirected to a new address - you can do this by using their cc via internet and when my daddy stopped seeing the requests for donations then the checks stopped going out. Also, get a hold of that check book and tell mom that now all bills are paid automatically. Also, most churches have an online tithing portal so that can be done too. After about two months my daddy forgot about paying bills he just knew he needed to get money out of the bank - so I would take him to the bank let him get money out but when the cashier asked if he wanted the receipt I would tell the cashier "only the checking account" because I had transferred his money to the savings account to pay the bills. He soon forgot the value of money he would give me hundreds of dollars for a meal. I would take the money and put it in the savings account. This way he felt like he was still in charge and helping himself. Remember we need to think outside the box and let them feel useful.
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Reply to Ohwow323
MACinCT Jun 7, 2024
I think about forgetting money. Mom's 2 MCs would hand out Monopoly money when playing games which would be used to buy small items from the "store" which was usually stocked with donated trinkets from charities. She had a dresser drawer filled with play money. I found it quite comical when she offered to pay for me to stay for lunch. Quite ingenious!
Don’t know the age of your mother, but maybe making her realistic budget with how much money she will potentially need for future care will give her some insight.
Unless she is super rich.
Anybody in late 60-70 can expect to live another 20 years or so with costs increasing of ALs to 7-10 thousands per month having 1 million is not that much today.
Also, find names of charities she supports and if they are even are good ones which often does not matter if there is not enough money.
Most people support one or two with small contributions.
My husband and I when we were working and strongly believed in educating girls in disadvantaged countries supported education for two girls in Haiti and Chile. I am proud to say we helped one to become a doctor.
And sometimes we gave to Doctors Without Borders as we felt they do important work. Many charities I would not support as they spent 95% on admin and only 5% on good causes.
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Reply to Evamar

JenJen24, what kind of cognitive and memory tests did they have your Mom take? I'm only asking because it doesn't seem her issue is memory or spatial, but rather reasoning and logic, and IDK which of the tests assess those skills, but others here do know. I'm mentioning this because elsewhere here you asked "Can negative diagnosis be wrong?" I think the next question to her doctor should be, "Was she given the right test for reasoning and logic skills?"
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Reply to Geaton777

JenJen, welcome to Forum.
I am confused. You posted this under dementia. You put in your profile that you are caring for a mother who has dementia.
Yet you tell us above that "her testing diagnosis was not dementia as we thought".

Because the answer to your question is utterly dependent on your answer to the question above, the information is crucial.

Your mother is living alone independently, driving and having her own life. You say testing proves she has no dementia.
If this statement is true there is not a single thing in the world you can do to stop her from giving her money away whether she throws it away gambling, gives it ALL to her church or gives it away one check at a time.

If your mother DOES have dementia, then you currently can't do anything with a MPOA. You would need a financial POA and your burdens would be horrific, so watch what you wish for. You would have to take over your mother's accounts as the only signator as POA, give her a small spending account, take over payment and accounting on all bills, housing, activities, find her placement and get her care so that she is safe and secure and her finances protected. If she has not conferred POA (general and financial) upon you I caution you to watch what you hope to get because it is a dreadful burden to force a loved one into care they don't want.

Interestingly I have a friend late 70s who writes checks all month long and gives money away right and left. She has a child, an alcoholic from whom she is estranged. She has written a will that gives her home and the home she inherited to people who work for her. All perfectly legitimate and her choice.

Wish you good luck, but if your mom knows what she's doing she can do it. I wouldn't even ASK were I you. The money will be gone. The consequences to her will likely be dire should she ever need to pay for care to remain in home, independent, or have good living facilities. But there you are.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
Rogerwyatt7890 May 31, 2024
My mom gave everything in her garage to the lawn maintenance guy that was ripping her off. He took it all even before her death. I had to talk to an elderly attorney about it. He has disappeared out of the scene now. She trusts everyone and does not even realize what she is doing.
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Sit down woth Mom & discuss banking & donating to charities.

Let Mom choose THREE charities.
Let Mom choose the ANNUAL amount for each.
Decide when this will be paid eg 1st of Jan or 1st July.

Look over her accounts together.
Consider having 3 accounts.
1. Weekly expenses
2. Once a year/bigger bills
3. Savings

Decide which one will be for weekly small bills. This is the one your Mom will be in control of.

Only feed this account with enough to cover each week's expenses. Mom can be independant with this account.

The other two, you will use TOGETHER as Mom's behaviour has shown she requires supervision with her finances.
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Reply to Beatty
Anxietynacy Jun 1, 2024
That's an awesome idea beatty
You have no power if you are not her FPoA and she doesn't have a medical diagnosis of incapacity or impairment. She doesn't seem to be a candidate for guardianship (because you'd have to prove she's incapacitated in court and she already has a test allegedly proving she isn't).

I don't blame you for being alarmed at this. It is definitely a likely sign of early cognitive problems. My MIL and Aunt both did the same thing and if you read on this forum you'll see it's a very common early symptom.

I have to ask: were you in the room with her when she was tested? Are you privy to the test results in her portal? Or are you getting the test result info from her only?

There are other cognitive tests that can be done, but through a neurologist.

You can consider vetting her incoming mail by having it go to a PO Box that you control, then will need to deliver to her after you've gone through it (I have done this, but it's a pain). You can tell her it's because of "postal theft" in the neighborhood.
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Reply to Geaton777
XenaJada May 31, 2024
My mom does this too. We’ve managed to get her to stop most of it.
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It certainly seems as if mom is NOT that okay living on her own. Nor would I assume that she’s okay driving because nothing guarantees that she’ll stay within that pattern.

I know two people whose families assumed they were fine to be driving. One ended up on interstates for a couple of days and had a minor accident with a curb, so the police called family in the middle of the night to come get him 80 miles away. The other drove around for a while, ending up 8 cities away from home. He stopped at a rest stop that was actually a condo guard shack and was caught peeing in it.

Start thinking ahead so you will be prepared for the next step.
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Reply to Fawnby

Political groups/candidates can be SUPER insistent, and they must share their mailing lists. A few years ago, I realized that I was getting bombarded with solicitations, some from organizations I'd never even heard of. I unsubscribed and stopped contributing to ALL candidates/causes to stop the flood of emails and letters. I hesitated to do that because there are a few that I would have liked to continue supporting, but I refuse to be deluged with unwanted solicitations. Bombardment must be a successful fund-raising strategy overall or they wouldn't continue doing it, but it certainly wasn't working for me.

I've unsubscribed from almost all charities, as well. I figure that the best thing I can do for those in need is try not to join them. If I don't make my Final Exit in the reasonably near future, I will need every penny to pay for my own long-term care.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to ElizabethAR37

How did you find out mom's testing diagnosis? Did you hear her score from the doctor or from mom?

Also, how is your name also on moms checking account if you do not hold financial POA? If your name is on that account, you should be able to close it out entirely or reduce the balance accordingly.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to lealonnie1
Geaton777 Jun 1, 2024
LL, anyone can be joint on an account as long as it's consensual. I was joint on my Mom's way before I became her PoA. I can't even remember the reason why we did that. It started when she moved next door to me in 1997.

I recently learned that it's not always possible for only 1 of the 2 joint owners to close the account on their own. This certainly was true at WF here in MN. They wouldn't let me close an account I had with my adult son without both of us agreeing to it.

If the OP closes the account and moves it, the new account would have to be in only the OPs name and there's a risk this would appear as gifting... Reducing the money in the account is a strategy but if the Mom is in denial (or has memory issues) and continues to write checks then she'll rack up a hefty overdraft bill. My MIL had $900+ in overdraft fees by time we figured out her memory issues.

Taking her checkbooks away only resulted in her calling the bank and ordering more checks. We found boxes and boxes of new checks (each box had multiple boxes in them). This situation is actually a pretty tricky one if there's no FPoA and no diagnosis.
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