What kind of memory loss is this? - AgingCare.com

What kind of memory loss is this?

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I hope to one day get my mother evaluated for dementia, but until that day I just analyze things she does. I'm wondering what you guys make of this. So my mother still lives independently and manages her own finances. The cable company talked her into accepting a new set of channels "free" for three months. For month four they began to charge her and she was outraged, hurt, personally angry at the company and got them to rescind the charge. She told me she is still angry at the company and won't allow them to come fix a problem she's having with their cable box. I pointed out to her that the free period followed by a charge was standard practice and she said she had NEVER heard of such a thing before. This is completely untrue - this represents a memory loss going back many years at least. What do you all make of this? I worry how much longer she'll be able to manage her affairs. Thanks everyone.

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Fairydust It is very good that you are aware of a possible impairment of your Mom's and it dose not hurt to be aware of her billing dealings. After re-reading your question I thought to myself, many times I myself have hung up the phone after changing or talking about a billing issue and said to myself what just happened??? What did I just agree to ??? Then I get the bill and it seems more confusing!!!!! Half the time the English is not clear and I get lost in translation. One time I was billed for a phone that never worked about $600.00 because the phone company said I never called to cancel and they needed a confirmation # to prove I cancelled, why would I cancel a phone that never worked????? So stay aware of her transactions for now, awareness is the first step. Nothing wrong with being a good daughter.
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Fairy, it seems that you might be at the beginning of that slippery slope. It's when you start noticing a problem with memory and everyday things but mom won't admit it. Inside, she knows. She knows something is different but to her, it's probably not that bad yet and maybe it's not. From here, at least for me, it got worse and quite quickly I might add. Within 2 years, my mom was really having problem and I was balancing her checkbook for the most independant woman I had ever known. Little by little, she would ask me to help and what I realized was this. It was much easier for me to let her ask then to remind her that her mind was going. I would do whatever she asked with much non-chalance (sic) and made it as simple as possible. I sincerely believe that inside she knew what was happening. She would make reference to things that made me very sure that she knew her memory was going. Finally, she did allow the doctor to suggest a medication for her memory after I talked to him while she wasn't around. This allowed her to keep her dignity with me and yet, gave her hope that it wouldn't get worse. Unfortunately for me, my mom had an accident right after that, broke her neck and never recovered. Until the day she died though, I think that I was able to allow her to keep her dignity by only making small suggestions and asking her if I could do her checkbook at times, for "practice". I think we both knew the truth but our love was strong and we didn't have to say anything about it. I wish you well and know you'll figure it out.
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Sorry, should have said December 2011 :)
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While gathering my ILs financial records their checkbook was quite revealing regarding MIL's dementia.

You could clearly see from the checkbook registers that her first mini stroke had occurred 3 1/2 years earlier. Periodically, it would worse and she eventually stopped balancing her statements. After the December 2012 stroke which brought frightening hallucinations and a personality change, the numbers quite dramatically changed again. Large numbers, written at a slant across several lines. The checks she was writing to people and companies looked pretty normal except for the declining signature. Math and number were obviously the first struggle she encountered.

A glance at your mom's current register might lessen your concerns. My MIL also had started sending checks to various organizations which she hadn't done before. As said somewhere on the site before, at some point during those past couple of years, someone accessed her information and money was being directed out of her checking account. The withdrawals were clearly printed on her statements.

She had hinted to her sister a couple of times that paying bills was getting confusing, but that was all she said. Someone else's cable bill was being paid for out of her account. Most of the odd withdrawals were to Capitol One accounts that were fraudulently set up by the thief. We don't know still who did it. The bank only refunded her for the past 60 days- the rest was a loss.
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Fairydust, the example you gave doesn't sound like memory loss to me. It sounds more that she liked something that was free, but not so much when she had to pay for it. It may be simply that the shock of the larger bill made her realize there is no such thing as free cable. So often people hear the free and don't think about later implications. That is what advertisers are hoping for with their free offers. She must have made quite a ruckus to get them not to charge her. That sounds pretty competent to me. :)
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Fairydust Try a test... Ask your Mom if she'll play a word game with you (it may be a good idea not to tell her why, make something up if you have to). Then say three words... such as Window...Quarter...Muffins.... give her a minute then ask her what the words you said were. Don't correct her or give judgement just say OK, good ...then a few minutes later ask her again if she can repeat the words you said.... Again, Don't correct her or give judgement just say OK, good Doing this test may give you an idea of how short term her memory is. If she is forgetting things the worse thing you can do is try to correct her or act like she is having issues. I say this because if she realizes you know she is having trouble and she knows your right she'll most likely try to hide it and get angry with you because of embarrassing herself and fear of loss of her independence. Well.... most people do this when they start with these memory problems and if she knows you know or that you want to help it usually back fires and she'll get argumentative. I am generally stating this of course but it's very typical in most cases.
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My mother's on the same page; she'll agree to something, then get infuriated over being charged for it, always saying something like, "When I was growing up, I could call for..." and whatever this or that was, it could be solved. For me, I just stay in charge of the phone and the bills, but it is tiring.
Short answers: could you take your mother in for a general checkup, have the evaluation done then?
Could you have your mother's nonessential bills, such as cable, sent to you? It's one way to stay aware of what is being charged.
Poor answer, just one that helps me.
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Thanks Jeanne, so far she doesn't do the things you listed - as far as I know. She has started donating money to causes soliciting her in the mail more often than she has in the past - she really doesn't have the money to spare and skimps on things that she actually needs. There are a number of problems in judgment like that in all areas not just finances - things which technically she has the right to do but aren't good.

It just really worries me that she completely forgot ever knowing that cable companies make free temporary offers when she has been familiar with this for at least two decades but now it's news to her. I wonder what else she's forgetting and at what point these lapses require action.
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What are some other examples of memory problems or difficulty with financial transactions? Does she pay bills twice? Miss paying bills? Order things and then think they are gifts?

You do want to keep a close watch on this, because confusion in managing finances can snowball quickly into serious problems.
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