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My mother had a stroke in 2003. She lives alone in her own home with caregivers that come in daily. The stroke affected her right side. She takes care of her own affairs/bills, etc. She also pays the caregivers. My concern, when do you know that it is time to start overseeing the finances, making sure she is paying things on time, etc without making her feel I have to watch everything she does. She is a very independent person and always was and insists living in her home and not an assisted living facility which we tried and she hated it. Thanks!

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The bank actually asked me to step in, when we went to visit at Christmastime, about 3 years ago. I was too late to help, but got to clean up a HUGE mess. And still am. They were not responsible, and Dad's Alzheimer's made things worse. It was and is a horrible mess. I was advised to go to court and get guardianship. I took over everything. Dad was placed in a nursing home, and now can't read or say much of anything. The decline was quick from where he was, just a short while ago, spinning plates. Unfortunately, some plates broke. I am still cleaning up the mess. He had always taken care of all the bills, and mom just spent on junk. I stopped that immediately. And I curtailed her OCD, and she didn't like it, so she complained. She has a new guardian now, and she is back to frittering away everything on useless junk. They are no longer concerned with paying bills, but letting her spend frivolously. I hate the court system.

My mom is an incapacitated individual who was never responsible, and never grew up. She is a spoiled brat in an 74 year old body, who uses the legal system to throw tantrums and get her way. She lies, and does whatever it takes. Too old to spank. And me, the responsible one, setting limits and paying off debts, gets accused of false things. What a nightmare dealing with this. Sorry. I guess I just needed to vent.

The moral is: we don't always know what our folks are doing. I actually suspected some things, but didn't figure it was my place to meddle or do anything. (Until things got beyond dad's control). Someone needed to step in. Mom will never have full control again. The court has taken over now. I'll get to find out the results in a year. Oh, boy, can't wait. The attorneys are already lining their pockets, and she is spending foolishly. I could just scream!!!!
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You could share my story of a mother who has had repeated seizures over the years who gave me durable POA as her Atty in fact weeks before she had a huge stroke after which she was totally downhill to a broken hip in April and has given up ever since. However, I soon discovered that my mother and step-dad had become 6 years behind in taxes, and her personal check book showed many unwise uses of money all of which had been hidden from me. I'm glad that she put her long term health care on auto pay. My mother tried to be independent up to a fault and also hid things from me. Being independent is good but it can also bite you and relatives in the rear if you have not thought ahead to give someone durable and medical POA. It's not about taking away her control as much as helping her prepare for someone to be in control when she can't.
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Lilliput,

You make a valid point about keeping parents who are mental capable of understanding what is going on in the loop. That gives them a sense of control, even if you are really doing all the work. This has worked with mom. We periodically go over bills that are due and decide what must be done in each case. If she has any question of what to do, she relies on me to answer her question or at least give her a go to person to solve the problem.
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You may consider becoming a "signer" on her checking account. If you need to make a check out for her or do anything for her at the bank, then you are already on her account. I also like having access to automatic "bill-pay" at her bank. I can immediately check her accounts if she has any questions and pay bills without having to write and mail checks. If you are just a signer on the account you are not legally liable for the account - your mother would just be authorizing you to write checks for her.
It has made life a little easier for me. I always make my mother aware of her finances. I think that it is important for all seniors to know where there money is going and be responsible for decision making if they are mentally able.
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Hocuspocus my mom had her stroke in October/2009. Her left side was affected, however she became weaker and weaker, mom is 90. She too was independent but after her stroke she could not find the line to sign her checks and kept asking me "where do I sign". Her signature became very distorted and I knew then it was time for me to take over. She also kept asking me "how much do I put in the amount" and asking me when she did if it was correct. Nini times out of 10 it was not. Again I knew then it was time for me to take over for that. Now when I write the checks for the bills we go over them together, which still gives her a sense of still being in control of her finances.

Maybe you could talk to her and ask her how much she pays out, and go over the payments with her and then you could tell. If in your opinion she is doing fine and is compitant with her finances then you should continue to let her. If not then you may want to involve yourself a little more.

I'm sure others will follow me with very helpful suggestions but I hope this one will help you as well.
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