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Is it part of Alzhiemer's or something else? Mom insists she has more money or should have more than what is there. She can't give me an amount of what she thinks is missing. She is able to afford her current bills fine, but often refuses to pay because she seems to think she is low on funds. Even after reassuring her by showing the online statement and going to the bank to show on paper what she has, she still seems confused and thinks she is without money. Sometimes I pay the bill myself to make things easier. Sometimes she hides the bills that come in the mail and if I'm not careful we get late charges. Most of the bills can be paid online whether it is her account or mine, but if I have to pay all her bills from my account we will become broke (husband, 3 kids, and me). What would be a good idea to reassure her or is it useless to try and calm her down?

With my real Mom, we would sit down once a week. I would tell her which bill had come and she would tell me how much to pay on it. That system worked for over 15 years.

With my “Adopted” Papa, after he spent 3 hours trying to pay one bill, and wasted 6 checks - I asked if he wanted me to do it for him. I completely took over that time, he didn’t even see the bills. I would show him the bank statement online if he asked.

I had POA with my Mom, but it wasn’t in effect. No POA with Papa, just helping out. Both ways worked.

Possibly approach it from concern: Gosh Mom, you’re worrying yourself crazy about these bills! Why don’t I just help get them all in one place and straightened out? That’s step one. Then ease into step two.
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Reply to BeckyT
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I am on all my mom's accounts now, so I've set up all of her bills on autopay. This way she doesn't even see them come in and get paid, and it seems to have taken a weight off of her mind.
So as many of your mother's bills as you can get on autopay, do it.
I will confess I also intercept and throw away any requests she gets for money, as there are so MANY charities that targets elders, and she has said she's done giving. But getting the requests agitates her all over again.
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Reply to WritrChick
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Debstarr53 Mar 21, 2021
This is exactly what she should do. A person with Alzheimer's should not be handling their own finances. Durable power of attorney. I am on my mom's accounts, I pick up her mail, I pay the bills. As long as she has everything she needs, she doesn't need to worry. Take away the responsibility and the worry will fade away. Mom no longer even has access to any money. If she did, it would fly out the window to some worthless charity.
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This is where a Power of Attorney comes in handy. BOTH for YOU and for Mother! Do NOT mix HER bills with YOUR checkbook. If you can, get her to sign a Durable Power of Attorney so YOU can take care of her bills out of HER checkbook. That way, she doesn't have to worry about her finances and you can get the bills set up to be paid online or automatic recurring bills can be taken directly out of her account. NONE will be SENT as bills for her to see and pretty soon, she won't be reminded about money. Don't mix your Mom's income with your family income. If she has the money to pay for her bills, it must come out of her account. This way, your OWN family won't suffer loss....I think the MAIN thing is to get ALL bills out of her home so she doesn't see them and obsess about it.
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Reply to Abbingtonmom
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My father was always worried about money - child of the depression. It can help if you or another family member has POA for your mother. Mom and Dad traded off taking care of bills over the years of their marriage; Mom hated the way Dad did it because of the way he kept records. The last time Dad handled the finances he had early alzheimer's, for a short time he'd wait for me to come over and give me the bills and checkbook and have me write the checks for him (maybe it was an audition LOL). He then gave it back to Mom to handle, but she soon handed it off to me. I've been handling the finances for 5 or 6 years. A couple bills are on autopay, the rest are mailed to Mom at my address. Dad has since died - and up to the end many of his delusions were about money, him owing someone money and I'd assure him I'd paid these imaginary people and they had enough money to live on.

If no one has POA, see if she will consent to have you or another family member to her bank account so her bills get paid.

Good Luck
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Reply to cweissp
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Imho, she is unable to grasp her own financials as she has a broken brain. You should not use your own financials.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I feel your pain. I tried to get my mom to let her bills come to my house, because she couldn't manage things anymore. She would refuse, then bills would get lost and not paid. Never in her life had bills not been and so somehow it was my fault they weren't getting paid. At the time I didn't have POA. Oh, and every single month SS was cheating her, despite me showing her the income statement showing what she was owed and how that matched the direct deposit! It was dementia related.

With my mother-in-law, she is terrified of running out of money but believes in paying bills, so she skimped on running heat and electricity, barely spent money on food, and lived a dreadfully miserly life until she recently moved to assisted living. I felt so sorry for her, it really was bad. Hers was anxiety, not dementia related.
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Reply to mollymoose
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Money is an issue that can get on a loop in the brain - just as you described. Take what measures you can to remove the conversation. You won't remove the thoughts she has regarding running out of money or thinking there should be more.

Go online and create online accounts for her for each of the bills she owes. I have a list of each monthly bill that is supposed to be paid, a separate section on my list for annual payments, quarterly (like lawn service), etc. Even if the bill does not come in the mail, all I have to do is go down the list on first of each month and get everything paid.

When you set up the account, you can change nearly everything to be 'paperless' so that nothing goes out in the mail anymore. Avoids her hiding mail, putting in in file 13, or just avoiding the payment. There is no need to pay these things out of your money when you can just handle it without having to discuss or explain it.
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Reply to my2cents
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First of all, get a Power of Attorney. Then arrange for ALL BILLS to be sent to you, not to her ever again. You pay all the bills and do the paperwork USING HER MONEY - never use your own. That is all you can do. Do not let her handle the bills and the money and don't you pay it out of your money. You must get tough and get a POA and take over. She is controlling you - unacceptable.
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Reply to Rusty2166
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my2cents Mar 11, 2021
rusty2166 - she is not controlling anyone. her broken brain is driving the conversation. you don't get 'tough' with dementia - the broken brain believes what it believes. Caretakers and family have to find ways of dealing with it outside the norm. . . as in, what you mentioned, having bills sent somewhere else or paying them online for her. --- you commonly write things about getting tough with dementia patients, setting them straight, locking them away if they don't behave (in a normal fashion). I don't understand these comments.
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My mother is 95 yrs old. Her anxiety is that she doesn’t have enough food in the house. I always shop for her, but she insist she doesn’t have enough soup or whatever and I show her she does have more than enough. She sees it, relaxes some, and then her anxiety builds again. I guess it’s their belief system at this time. Not sure what can be done about it. It seems to be about food for my mom.
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Reply to nymima
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Every so often, my mother, who had rather severe memory loss, would ask how much the nursing home costs. When I told her $210 per day, she asked "how can we afford that?" Then I told her not to worry, she has sufficient funds. Then it was "where did we get that?" so I told her she had stock held since 1958, so there were dividends, along with SS and our father's pension which she continued to receive. Occasionally I was tempted to tell her that Dad was a drug kingpin or something else ridiculous--and if I did, I said with a big grin so she realized I was kidding--and then explained what I outlined above. That seemed to satisfy her, and because my sister had POA, the bills were all paid (by handwritten, mailed checks after statements were received). Fortunately, she never got overly worried or frantic about it.

One strange thing that happened is that when the ownership of the nursing home changed, bills weren't sent for several months, even after being contacted asking about it (there was not online system available--it was all strictly by paper). Finally, we received a bill covering several months, so we took advantage of it by paying only 1 1/2 months' worth at a time (there were no penalties involved), so this allowed the dividends to accumulate to obviate any need to sell securities themselves.

Has anyone else experienced difficulty in getting billed by a MC, AL or NH facility?
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Reply to jacobsonbob
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It seems she has anxiety and possibly dementia. Only an evaluation by a doctor can diagnose these problems. Please talk to her doctor who may recommend an evaluation in his/her office or may make a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist. The doctor can prescribe medications that can help with early dementia and anxiety. Now would be a good time to streamline her finances: automatic bill payments, checking online bank statements for unusual activity...

If she does not have powers of attorney for medical and financial, you need to have her visit a lawyer and get those legal documents prepared NOW. With POAs you can help manage her financial and medical affairs when she is diagnosed as "mentally incompetent." Unfortunately, it appears she is soon going to be unable to handle her finances at all.
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Reply to Taarna
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My mother had always been very math savvy. She always told us stories about how when her and my dad got married, he was so glad when she took over paying the bills. He taught, which didn't pay a lot, and after the birth of their first child she stayed home and raised the children. So needless to say they didn't have a lot of money but my mom kept things on a careful budget and always made sure they paid things on time and because of that they survived that time and had a fair amount put away by the time my dad had to go in long-term care. My mom's early stages of dementia were accompanied by her eyesight declining. It used to break my heart because she would sit at the kitchen table for hours and maybe get two bills written the whole time. I asked her repeatedly to let me help, even if it was to write out most of the check and then her sign it, and then make sure that it got put in the envelope right. And then it got worse. She was getting bills that made it obvious that she wasn't getting stuff sent off and they weren't being paid. I guess we're lucky this all started going downhill during the pandemic when places were a lot more understanding about people being behind on their bills. Then, right before Christmas, she went in the hospital for about a week but then was in rehab for 3 weeks. I called her everyday and one day I told her, mom, why don't you let me help get your bills organized. Before that she had been letting me pay her gas and electric bill and her homeowners insurance bill online, so at that point, and once she agreed to let me get her bills organized, it wasn't too hard to convince her to let me pay some of her other stuff online. I don't have POA, but I consider her giving me that permission enough for me to use her Visa check card to pay the bills online. And she has declined since then, so I can only imagine how much worse off we would be with paying the bills. Now she doesn't think anything of it, although sadly, that's probably because she doesn't remember too much about it. I don't do auto pay. I've had too many bad experiences in the past for myself with that. But it does help that I go out to get the mail (I live with her.) She is no longer strong enough to walk out to the mailbox and this way I get to see the bills before she does. And, knowing that she likes to occasionally look back to see what's been paid, I have a whole binder set up with different sections, showing the bill statements and with the date written on them when they were paid. But I get the whole thing about her not wanting to spend money in general. We actually need a new roof on the house and that took a bit of convincing! And it's her house, so I wasn't going to pay for it, nor do I have the funds to do so as the cost of the roof will probably be about what I bring in after taxes for a year. But I finally got her to understand that we now have a leak in the ceiling and that this needs to be taken care of. I wish you the best in trying to solve this dilemma.
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Reply to yankeetooter
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Best thing to do is have all her bills paid by Auto coming directly out of her Bank Account and they will all be paid and no one has to worry about them being paid or late charges.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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I took over the bill paying for my mom and I suggest you do so too. It was stressing her out and she was always fretting about when to pay, did the bill come, when will it come, etc. etc. I told her, truthfully, that is would be much easier and less stressful for ME if I just did it all for her. Whew. Soooo much easier for both of us.

With my MIL, we pretend that we balance her checking account every month cuz she was also making a mess of things and stressing. She is VERY frugal and has enough money to do what she needs to do so the stress and confusion she was dealing with was totally unnecessary. When she gets too low on funds, then we'll actually monitor it and help her cut back where needed to make ends meet.

Are you already joint on her accounts? If not, take care of that ASAP. Actually all paperwork (like will, living will, healthcare proxy, POA etc) should also be taken care of if not already in order. When my parents moved in with us, I made this a condition of moving in cuz I knew they had nothing formalized yet and I did not want to be left with a complete disaster on my hands.

Anyhow, good luck. I've had good luck with the "it'll be so much easier for ME, Mom" tactic with taking over her bills and her meds.
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Reply to againx100
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From your profile:
"I have no idea why I need to provide your company so much info. Just to post 1 thing. Maybe its more like....nevermind"

It isn't required, but a brief description of your LOs situation and yours is helpful to the rest of us when making suggestions or recommendations. Many don't post enough information in their question.

Since it isn't provided, these are important questions:
1) does she live with you?
2) do you have POAs set up?

#2 is very important, esp as dementia progresses. IF the financial and medical POAs are not set up yet, now is the time to get it done, if possible. My mother was in the early stages when we had update documentation (set up trust fund and Life Estate.) The atty took her aside and asked questions until he was satisfied that she understood. We had done POAs previously, when dad was on the decline, but this applies to setting up POAs now for your mother. IF she is beyond this capability, it will take going to court to get guardianship and conservatorship.

For #1, whether she lives with you or not, get a PO Box and call all her billers to change the MAILING address, not the service address. I was able to do this for all WITHOUT using the POA. They don't care where bills are sent, as long as they are paid. You should NOT be paying her bills with your funds. IF she lives alone, start making alternate plans now.

Once done, you could, if you have POA, sign up for electronic billing. I preferred having the bills, so I have records on hand if I need them. With POA you can also create an online account with the bank, and pay all her bills from there. With the PO Box or electronic billing, you won't miss any bills. Everyone has a preference, and mine was to "push" the payments, not set up Autopay. If there is a mistake on their end, it's a hassle to get it back. Also, if the service ends and you forget about it, it will continue! The only Autopay I've set up was for mom's Sunday paper and my auto insurance, primarily because they charge more if you don't. I almost missed the paper when mom passed!

My mother lived alone when dementia crept in. Not living with her, some very early subtle signs were missed, mainly because of my lack of knowledge. Anyway, difficulties with financial affairs IS one of the common issues seen during the earlier stages. I offered once to take it over and set it up electronic, because she was saying it was "too much." She declined at that time. When she started making mistakes, I made the decision to take over. Wanting her to be "involved" really didn't work out. Initially I had bills sent to me and managed payments, but let statements go to her. She started digging out old papers, and was convinced someone died and left her money - I heard about this every few days! YB stopped in, but passed it off, without explaining. When I was able to get there, she had 1099s (basically W2s for those retired) from several years prior. Because the pension was dad's, it indicated Death Benefits. When I tried to explain, "Oh he died years ago!" A little more explanation, showing her the tax paperwork made a little headway. Then she wanted to know why these were just sent! Anything on the kitchen table JUST came in the mail. Didn't matter that SHE dug it out of the drawer. She also found an old HR form of dad's for Life Ins, and despite showing her she got this, insisted on filling it out. Sure, go ahead, um, where do you mail it? I left those until YB could take her out for a bit and I swept her place clean of ANY paperwork, bills, statements, etc., and made sure everything came to me. Out of sight, out of mind.

You may need to do this - take over everything and remove all "reminders". Keep a statement that shows a balance and use it, ONLY IF YOU HAVE TO, to reassure her that she has funds and that her bills are paid. Less info is better. Change the subject. Don't tell that you've taken over.

Reimburse yourself, but keep copies of those payments you made with her records.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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When my father was in AL I would leave him around $50-70 in cash for things that might come up. He told me he would prefer I kept the money at my house but I couldn't find it. He tells me he just counted it a few days ago and it was over $15000. He insisted he had that kind of money in his room and no matter what I said he refused to believe me. After 20 minutes of arguing I just started looking for his lost money. That seemed to appease him.
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Reply to lkdrymom
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It is part of Alzheimer's, or at least of loss of cognition generally. It's related to an all-pervading sense of confusion and uncertainty that makes the person feel insecure and uneasy, and money - being one of life's headline subjects for all of us - often becomes a focus of the feeling.

I well remember finding my exceptionally capable, independent and financially literate aunt distraught during one routine phone call, having convinced herself that she had made a dreadful miscalculation about her lifetime annuity and would be homeless by the end of the month. Knowing next to nothing about her finances myself, I referred her to her lawyer DIL and my banker sister, and between the two of them they managed to spot the key point she'd overlooked and talk her off the ledge; but it did take time and all their expertise.

I'm guessing that you don't have power of attorney or presumably you'd be using it already. That makes it difficult, but paying the bills yourself is not the answer. Not only can you not afford it but also it is ethically wrong. Your mother is not an idiot, nor a pauper, nor a charity case and you shouldn't treat her as such.

It is useless to try to calm her down, because even though you manage it on the odd occasion the fear is going to recur - possibly building up to several times an hour. What you need to do is catch her on a good day and work out a system for you to receive all her bills and pay them from her account. How far developed is her Alzheimer's Disease? If she's not too far down the road it might still be possible to create a POA.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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For my mother, who has moderate dementia, it was useless to try and calm her down. It wasn’t until she handed over all responsibilities for her checkbook and bills, did the CONSTANT worry go away. Then, it just switched to being obsessed with something else! ;-)
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Reply to cxmoody
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Online banking is a godsend!! I can't even remember the days of sitting down to write out checks for bills--just remember the stress!! Now you can set up autopay on almost everything, and the rest can be dealt with anywhere, anytime. I'm never late on a bill--something I can't say never happened with a mailed check!

After I do my bill pay, I print the transactions out and file them in a binder. EVERYTHING that gets paid, autopay or me doing it gets printed and saved.

If your mom can SEE in black & white that bills have been paid (keep a copy of everything in a binder for her to see) would that maybe quell some of her anxiety? Does online banking make sense to her?

My mom still writes about 5 checks a month for bills. Then she has cash for things like groceries, haircuts, eating out. She doesn't trust online banking, but that's OK. She's still able to balance that checkbook.
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Reply to Midkid58
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cak2135 Mar 11, 2021
I have been online banking for who knows how long, and I love it. All I have to do is go to the website, pay my bill, and it will appear in my inbox. I think printing out the transactions is a good idea and keeping them in an accordian folder is a good idea; that way, I have proof that my bill was paid in a timely manner. The day they become due, it's my cue to get to the computer, bring up the website and few clicks here and a few clicks there; that's all there is too it
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Does she have dementia? If so, yes this is very normal. There is a severe feeling of loss of control and fear of "what could happen". And often enough people become obsessed with financial matters.
Clearly she cannot handle her financial matters now. The POA should take this over and pay her bills for her from her own accounts. You should never pay out of your own unless keeping careful receipts, diaries, records, notes to be compensated when able.
It may or may not be useless to calm her down. When I acted as POA and Trustee of Trust for my bro I had bills mailed to me and paid them from his account as Trustee or POA. He had a small account of his own to do with as he pleased. This was his REQUEST to me when he was diagnosed. It prevented a world of confusion. I sent him a monthly accounting of all assets into his account, of his assets total, and of all bills paid that month. He kept them in a notebook and would take it out and look at it; it was enormously relief to him to have at his fingertips.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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I think that it is part of Alzheimer's but, it is also something that I have seen all older people do. They don't have a current concept of how far a dollar goes. So between the muddled mind of dementia and the lack of reality of how much things cost it is a perfect storm.

You need to stop paying her bills though. Set everything up to pay online, not auto pay, my personal opinion if there is a problem you play heck getting your money back. Set everything up online so you have access to all of her bills and opt for paperless billing. But use her money and her account for her bills. Nothing is going to change her reality about the missing money, so don't damage your own financial situation by personally paying. Especially if she ever needs Medicaid, because that money will never be repaid to you.

Sometimes we just have to do what we need to and then repeat that we know to our loved ones. Especially with the out of control inflation we are seeing right now a dollar doesn't stretch anymore.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I would get all her bills you can on autopay. I take care of everything from Wisconsin.. my mom is in Tucson,...I have it in her credit card which gets autopayed thru her checking. That’s a start to solve that problem. You may not be able to solve her money fears,I suggest , to continue showing her the statements keep them in a folder and show them to her. If she frets more reassurance and change of subject.
you could make a copy of statements for yourself and keep a file in her room with originals so she can resource them , it might give her a feeling of control...
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