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I've always heard the first sign of dementia may not come in the form of forgetfulness, but in the form of poor decision making and an empty checking account.


My mother is 83 and is usually pretty sharp. Over the past 15 years she has, however, had episodes of fixation and obsession on various things. I won't get into all of that except to say the latest is she donates to every charity she gets mail from. As you can imagine, she is getting INUNDATED with junk mail on a daily basis. She receives upward of 20 pieces of mail from various charities PER DAY.


Her weakness is wounded veterans and children. She originally donated to Wounded Warrior Project and St. Jude's and now I see so many different postcards from charities I've never heard of which feature pics of amputees and hungry or sick children. There is NO convincing her that "anyone can find images online, design postcards and mail them out to solicit donations."


I've tried getting her to look at Charity Navigator and evaluate all of those before sending money, but she hates the internet and hates to read or do research.


My dad is still living and somewhat mobile. I've told him he needs to make it a point to get the mail daily and TRASH all the junk mail before she sees it. He's doing a poor job of it.


Anyone have any other suggestions? I do not see them daily as I live 1.5 hrs. away.

Agree that a visit may be beneficial. Nothing like boots on the ground & a good peer around with your own eyes!

This may lead to some awkward, but useful conversations.

Take it slow, it may take quite a few chats/visits.. Assess how well Mom & Dad can reason & plan.

Stuff like, if some things get too hard for you, who would you like to nominate to help? Eg if your credit card got scammed? (Insert warning there is MUCH of this around - it's the truth afterall).

This may open the way for financial chats about safety & an overhaul.

The upfront way forward would be to discuss the scammers with honesty.

Then I would aim for a compromise with Mom. My idea is to choose her best 3 charities. Set up an agreed yearly amount with these. Then goodbye to the rest.

If this solution is accepted, I would take the rest & get them all redirected to a PO Box box (near my own house). This would be step 1. Step 2 would be to attempt to get off each list (no easy feat).

Of course this won't stop NEW junk & scams.. but if Mom realises this is a problem, she can feel GOOD about the charities she does donate to & ignore the rest.

If however, Mom cannot understand the risks, understand the problem, is lacking reason in this area... Well... maybe work behind the scenes is needed instead.

Mom & Dad share funds right? So Dad gets a say in the household funds. So speak to Dad. Does he have the reason to take over the financials?
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Reply to Beatty
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I would hope St Jude and Wounded Warriors do not sell your address.

I had no problem with Mom. As things got tight her charity giving got less. Your problem is her address is being sold. This is what I did. Seems these places are getting smart so they don't send that self-addressed envelope but if they do, put all the mail back in it and leave the one with Moms address so they see it when the mail is open. Put right next to her name REMOVE MY NAME AND THIS ADDRESS FROM YOUR MAILING LIST AND ANY NAME ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ADDRESS. If no envelope look them up on the internet and email them saying the same thing. Here I would type in exactly how the name and address are shown on the envelope.

There is a site where you can request no junk mail. I had Moms address changed to mine so I could pay bills. Thought, good no junk mail. I got the junk mail with my address on it. PO blamed the Utilities and they blamed the PO.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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freqflyer Sep 24, 2022
JoAnn29, my address has been listed on that do not mail site for decades, it took years before the junk mail stopped. Now it is in my spam folder on e-mail :P

My boss always donated to Wounded Warriors, then he stared getting 10-15 requests a week. Turned out the addresses were slightly different from each other addressed to my boss, example no middle initial, middle initial, suite number, suite number with # in front of it. etc. Lack of quality control by the charity. My boss got so irritated that he stopped sending checks.
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Though my dad didn’t have dementia, he did get taken in by too many charities, and unfortunately even some family asking for money. During a hospitalization I took over his finances. I moved all of his banking to online only, had his mail forwarded to my home, and changed his bills to being emailed to me. I was already on his banking so that part was definitely easier. No one really questioned me. For the mail, I just filled out the form at the post office and dropped it off. When dad came home I was prepared for a fight, but I had a binder ready showing him each bill, when it was due and when it was or would be paid. Instead of fighting me, he actually seemed relieved. He was tired of it but didn’t really know how to put a stop to it. Over a few weeks I ended every charity contact. Some I send a final check with a strongly worded note to never contact dad again. Surprisingly it worked. I recommend you look at doing something similar. Your parents aren’t able to manage this anymore and need help. There may be upset and even anger, and that’s okay. You’ll be guarding their best interests and that’s exactly what’s needed
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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This is a version of my life around 9 years ago when my mother first entered AL. As long as she has access to a credit card and a checkbook it sadly is likely to continue unless you can be more emphatic with your father if you feel he would have a concern regarding this. I first took away the checkbook. I still endured several years in which I had to close and set up new credit card accounts to stop certain automatic charges every month. I grew extremely frustrated and emotionally exhausted.

I had serious conversations stating that she no longer had income to continue this way. If you do not have durable POA you will be wasting even more time. Basically you need to limit ways that she can access ways of payment. My mother even had very similar favorite charities. A bank affiliated with the credit card will not put a block on any company. Perhaps you might have to attempt to take away the card and get her a monthly pre loaded card. As I write this I feel my blood pressure rising as I recall all I went through. I had the benefit of her leaving her residence to go into AL. I sympathize with you. My mother at least heeded my advice with charities but there were other concerns regarding charges. If her memory is growing worse and she is not listening to you then you have to take away the weapon causing the damage which is a form of payment. I hope you find a solution.
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Reply to Riverdale
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You must consider that your fathere is no longer a capable gatekeeper/manager. Maybe have all their mail go to a PO Box that a local relative or trusted friend can access. Help them set up online banking and bill payments. Make sure all their sensitive information is secured in any way you can.

Is anyone their FPoA? If so this person needs to read the document to see what is required to activate their authority. Banks usually have their own PoA process so maybe you will need to make an appointment to go there with your parents to set you up jointly and let the bank admin know they are at risk for fraud.

I think you're at the juncture where you need to go there for a long weekend and really look around their place to see the evidence of incapacity. If they are the same age, it is not realistic to expect your father to take it all on if he is struggling himself.

I was just responding to another post by someone whose Mom was scammed online. My own Aunt used to send money to every subscription and request for donations -- and this was the first signs of her dementia that we clearly saw. Maybe set up an appointment with their doctor to discretely ask for a cognitive/memory exam so that you'll know what you're dealing with (both of them). It will be stressful and busy at first, until you can figure out what's going on and then assess their needs and do some care planning.
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