My mom is 86 and will not accept help with the finances. She is increasingly confused as to how to transfer funds online. NSF charges are piling up and the prop taxes have been paid with rubber checks. Lien is close on her house. She does not think there is a problem and refuses to let us help/manage the finances.

My mom's property/assets are in a trust. My sister and I will be the trustees eventually. We have two letters coming next week from her the Geriatrician and her GP. This will allow us to handle the finances.

I have been reading how to discuss this with her. We did discuss 4 days ago, but she forgot the next day.

BTW, the Geriatrician still has not told my mom she has Alzheimer's. But, she has told me and my sister. Next appt. is in 3 weeks.

Clearly, we have to manage the finances. Anyone have any way of telling a person with Alzheimers we are handling the finances now, without it seeming jarring. I know it will be...

Thank you,


When my mother started showing signs of dementia, I had to scramble to learn and understand. At one point, she said it was "all too much to take care of", but when I offered to take over her finances, she said no, it gave her something to do. She did start making mistakes, so we had to revisit the EC atty and set up a trust for the bulk of assets and condo. Her trust is irrevocable, so she isn't even allowed to "manage" it. We didn't "need" any doc notes or POAs to "manage" it. It was funded and waited until it was needed. It wasn't used until she moved to MC. Then the funds were needed to cover the balance of the facility AND pay the condo bills. (mom would not remember, but would also get angry if we tried to mention "D" to her, so we never talked about that!)

I didn't wait for her to agree. I temp forwarded her mail so I could get bills, addresses, account numbers, etc to set up bill payments, and phone numbers to contact them and change the mailing address. She did get notice of the forward, but didn't complain, much... Two of us had been added to the CU account many years prior, so with POA in hand, I closed a bank account and deposited it all in the CU account. Initially I let the statements go to her, but she had odd filing habits, so I changed the mailing address. When she got the insurance bill I missed (forward was only about 1.5 months, the insurance was billed yearly, much later), she tried getting checks sent - they went to me. She called again, but they told her I had them. Never heard about it.

That was all fine, except she started going through old paperwork. Without going into the details, I HAD to get them all out, so I had YB take her out and "swept" the place clean of ALL paperwork! As someone else said, out of sight, out of mind! She never mentioned missing anything.

If you have POAs, you should be able to take them to the bank and take over her accounts. Have them change the mailing address. Depending on what kind of trust it is, you should be trustees already - if not, it should stipulate when. If the doc notes are needed, use them ASAP!

Call the town tax person and explain a bit - ask for a balance and change of mailing address, so that you can pay it down. Any other bills in arrears, contact the biller and make arrangements to pay the past due amounts.

I would NOT wait for her to agree. She may or may not, and even if she does agree, she could forget that in a minute, an hour, next day. You've already encountered that. There's no point now to wait for her to accept this, just DO IT!

If possible, get her out of the place and take any/all paperwork, statements, bills, etc. They are just reminders, which you don't want. If you request temp forward of the mail, be aware she WILL get notice, so be prepared to snag that from the mail. This isn't to be underhanded, it just avoids questions, anger, etc. NOTE: Federal mail (SS, Medicare, IRS, etc will NOT forward.)

If she has SS, the only LEGIT way to manage her funds is to sign up to be rep payee. She doesn't have to be there, you don't need legal help, there's no fee. You call local office and make request. Likely done by phone now, but they ask Qs and submit. She WILL get notice of this as well, so be prepared! It does give the person the option to refute, so it's better to snag that as well. If approved, you'll have to set up a special account and report yearly. Not a big deal. Keep good records - report can be done online, easily.

If she has a pension, you'll have to check with them to see how that would be handled. Mom's was federal, so THAT was a pain in the butt! The fed agencies do not honor POAs, they have their own rules and forms. Because the mail doesn't forward, you need to work with them to be sure you get the mail, statements, 1099s, etc.

JUMP on in and do what needs to be done. It won't get any better, only worse, if you wait!
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to disgustedtoo

Stop trying to explain if she just forgets the next day. Just start doing everything that needs to be done, as much as you can, without involving her at all. If she squawks, humor her and keep doing what you need to do. She's probably not retaining much of anything, and her condition is probably much worse than it appears.
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Reply to Beekee

Next Dr visit you tell Dr you want him to sit down with Mom, look her in the eye, and tell her she has ALZ. She may believe him instead of you.

You do realize that if Mom is living alone, she should not be. So decisions will need to be made where will she go. To a childs home, to a nice AL if she can afford it, hire aides.

Mom has a Dementia. I am assuming the Drs letters are needed to make the POA effective. Once in effect, the POA now has the responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the person who assigned them. It is now no longer what Mom wants but what she needs. If you don't take her out of her home, then you have to take her financial paperwork out of her home. Out of sight out of mind. She is not capable of handling her own finances. If she has no money to pay her taxes, then the house may have to be sold to cover back taxes.

Mom will probably be mad. It will be hard reasoning with her because that is one of the first things to go. The ability to reason.

So sorry you are dealing with this. The tables have turned, Mom is now the child and you are the adult.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Anosognosia. Lack of awareness of her own condition. She will never get it, no matter how much you explain it. She probably won't even believe the doctor. For the rest of her life, you must humor her and make her feel is in control, even though she's not. Humoring her won't be as hard as you think, because her mind is way gone already. Others on this forum have suggested things like a purse full of plastic gift cards that look like bank cards, or even a separate bank account for her where you put a limited amount of money in every month, so she can still go through the routines of shopping or going to the coffee shop. Humoring her in this way will help her retain her fantasy that she's living independently. Unfortunately, humoring her in this way will make you depressed as you realize you will never have your rational, capable, reasonable mother back again.
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Reply to Beekee
jacobsonbob Feb 15, 2021
It looks as if there is a mixture of comments here, with some saying "tell your parent the diagnosis" (or have the Dr. do it) with others saying NOT to do it. Maybe the middle ground is for the Dr. to do in a gentle fashion, while perhaps avoiding the "D word" or the "AD" term (the latter term not actually the cause in many cases). This probably varies from patient to patient. I believe that if the patient WANTS to know the truth, or at least acknowledges that something has changed, then having the doctor provide the diagnosis is warranted, being more specific in the former case, and less so in the latter. Because one can't be certain as to how a given patient will respond, there probably is no obvious "best" answer.
You most likely need to go to probate court and show those doctors notes to the judge. Financial institutions have very strict rules and most likely will not play nice until they see the court order and who will be the representative. See an elder law attorney. You can reimburse yourself for legal fees once you get access to her assets. Also the best person will be the one with accounting skills and meticulous record keeping.
One thing you can do now is to forward her mail so that she sees no financial stuff. The one who visits often can just stuff junk mail in the box
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Reply to MACinCT
disgustedtoo Feb 16, 2021
I never had to go to court - I didn't even have any Dx or letters from docs. I took the POAs to the bank and CU, and that was that. I know what some people have difficulty with some banks. The POAs are legal documents, notarized, and should be accepted. Some have said they were told it was too old. Sounds like balking to me. Mom's was done in 2006 and not used until 2015, almost 10 years old. If they gave me crap, I would have gone up the food chain in the bank until they accepted the documents.

Keeping good records IS important!

I also temporarily forwarded mom's mail, so I would have the bills, account numbers, addresses, etc to set up payments through bill payer AND call each one to request a mailing (not service) address change.

NOTE: she WILL get notice if you do this, so you may have to watch the mail and snag that, if you don't want her to see it!

NOTE 2: forwarding the mail will NOT work for anything federal (SS, Medicare, IRS, VA, etc.) They don't accept any POAs - you have to use their rules/forms.
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That's one awful conversation to have with a parent, so take it slow and be kind.

Nobody wants to be told they're slipping. But when your mom is actually suffering, either mentally, physically or monetarily, she needs help.

I agree that the next Dr. visit should be a 'come to Jesus' moment. She might actually be relieved.

Once the POA is in effect, just start at the beginning and get her finances straightened out. Can you access her bank accts NOW so as to avoid NSF from occurring? Those can sink you, but fast.

And yes, mom will probably be mad. Let her know that what you are doing is out of love, not judgment. Well, a little judgment.

I'm baffled by Drs who keep this info from patients. My mom keeps asking me what's wrong with her--she can only carry a conversation for about 10 minutes and then she's just in la-la land and she gets more and more frustrated. Her doc has told YB that she is level 'such and such' with dementia, but has not told her. She is at a stage where she'd probably be relieved to KNOW that something's not right. I know. We all do, but YB has told us not to say anything to her.
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Reply to Midkid58
disgustedtoo Feb 16, 2021
With dementia, as you know, thoughts and memories are fleeting, so even if someone tells her, would she remember? How many times would we have to say it, and possibly upset the person over and over again?

Some also wouldn't be relieved to hear it. My mother would NEVER admit to having an issue. She said she's old and entitled to forget sometimes. She would NOT accept hearing it from anyone, no matter who it was, so I just avoided the "D" word!
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Be sure to keep meticulous records of all your actions.
As you said, you have told her of the necessity of your managing the Trust. Do that through a lawyer. She won't remember it, but it will keep her finances safe and you will be able to pay her bills.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to AlvaDeer

“The bank says that all accounts must be done online now Mom. Don’t worry, we’ll help you”.

Unless the geriatrician has some VERY SPECIFIC REASON for telling her she has dementia, don’t tell her.
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Reply to AnnReid

I don’t have to deal with this issue so this may not be relevant. But I watched my parents lie to my aunt about her condition after they put her in NH. She was never told that she could have gone home with live-in help or that her house had to be sold. She was deprived of the chance to give things to people instead of having everything auctioned off for nothing. And she KNEW something was wrong with what she was being told. It was a kind of gaslighting that bothered me a lot.

There has been some good advice here about saying things in the right way. She has cognitive decline that isn’t going to improve, so what good does it do to convince her of that fact? Won’t she just forget it? There’s already a trust in place and trustees to manage things. Once you have the official go-ahead, just do it. The idea of changing the mailing address is great. Just be sure to consult a well-recommended elder care attorney who can make sure as much of her assets are preserved as possible and prevent any future squabbles about the estate. Tell her the bank now pays everything automatically (which is easy to set up and true) so she doesn’t have to worry about it. Put a freeze on her accounts at all three credit reporting bureaus so no one can take out credit cards in her name. Can you transfer her money to a different account and have them just be very slow about sending new checks? As in never?

It’s the details like bill paying that cause problems and if they can be taken care of, there’s no need to make her “face the facts” of dementia. Respect what mental powers she does have, maybe see if there is a way to occupy her mind with crossword puzzles or games or reading, anything she can still do so she retains some personal dignity. The idea of a fake gift cards and a wallet with some cash in it was great. Maybe set her to writing down her family history-many people remember things from long ago better than things from five minutes ago. Good luck.
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Reply to Kentuckienne

I started slowly with my parents. I would casually look at their mail, check dates, ask if it had been paid. After a while they would start handing me items and asking me to explain them (especially junk mail). I was careful not to criticize them, they were often confused about what they needed to do. It’s difficult for many seniors to admit they need help.

After Dad died I would sit with Mom and go through her mail each week. She would write the checks as I watched and I would take them to the post office. As I had her POA I set up a lot of the payments online so,she didn’t even get a bill. I was a co-signer on her checking account so that I authorize the payments.

And now is the time to make sure all the accounts have up-to-date beneficiaries.
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Reply to Frances73

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