My Mom obsesses over her finances. What can we do to reassure her? - AgingCare.com

My Mom obsesses over her finances. What can we do to reassure her?

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My mom has dementia and is living with us. She dwells and dwells on her financial situation when the reality is she financially secure and has only a couple of bills each month to pay (health insurance supplements). I show her the bank statements and try to switch the subject, but within a short period of time she is stressing about it again. She even claims she has been up all night, all weekend, worrying.

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Thank you all for these very practical and straightforward ideas and suggestions. I really appreciate them all, and now I'm sure can figure something out, probably a combination of things. I have learned to divert the conversation away from what gets her upset, and that does seems to work - for a while. It does seem that once she starts to talk about whatever is troubling her, she feels better and can rest. So that's a good thing.

You know, I was wondering about the Great Depression connection just the other day! I just makes sense, especially considering how much she talks about her life with her grandfather back in the 1930's.

We're going to a new doctor this week, and I plan on bringing up the issues troubling both her and me. So many of us are experiencing dementia in our loved ones, each with his or her variation on a theme. Some days are better than others. Thank you all again so much!
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That's not a bad idea, CM, except it's more work for me... literally having to get away from her to drive there without her seeing me gone.... it could work though. In the past I parked in the driveway (too much stuff in my garage) and mom would look out her front window and damn if she didn't know EVERY TIME I tried to slip out alone, even for 2 minutes to get gas or something.... as soon as I'd return my phone would ring, "where were you??" Now I park INSIDE the garage so it could work. I tried parking in the garage last year after a cleanout of it, and mom said the following, "It hurts me when you park in the garage. I can't tell if you are there or not. That hurt me." So I took it out. This year I've had better luck and she hasn't complained. I don't know... I just called her on the phone and she was asleep in the chair. She says she is bored. I told her we will stop at Senior Center today for a list of activities; something's gotta give.
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Nikki, I don't know if you'd be comfortable with this - and it depends on whether she actually enjoys her purchases when she gets them home or just leaves them sitting untouched in carrier bags - but could you discreetly return things to shops for a refund? It could save her a packet of money, and save space at home. Depends on the attitude and type of retailer, too, of course.
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Additionally, I take her 1x a week to 'take money out' and explained how the ATM works to her. She takes $300-$400 a WEEK to spend on everything from her dog treats (OMG) to new clothing and garage sale finds....and her groceries. Everything is packed and she is happy. At this stage of her dementia I can't drop it to $100 a week she will raise holy hell.... so I figure ok let her do her thing and in time I will close in on the finances fully. In the meantime she's happy as long as she can take her few hundred a week out from "the machine" and it's all good...she doesn't ask about the account, as a whole, whereas I would if I were her... but with dementia I guess it doesn't work that way..?
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I had mom's monthly summary from the bank switched to online. Additionally, I forwarded her mail to my house. She can ask to see her bank statement, and that's fine, but she probably won't think to ask. She knows she has money in the bank, and I mean she is pretty comfortable.... which is why she wants to shop all the time. I carry her debit ATM card - she doesn't even know the passcode - and I am on her checking with her. I tell her when a bill arrives and I pay it within a couple of days of its arrival, so no worries there. She decided, after getting a credit card, that she didn't want it, and I think that has proved to be a blessing...
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My MIL insisted she could manage paying all her bills. She would pay some twice and the ones she didn't like (tax bills) she would hide in the paid bill stack. When she got the bill for the hospital & ambulance she hid them. She won't pay MD specialists because "they charge too much". (sigh) so we have to be ultra vigilant about bills that come in.
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My mother (95 with dementia) went through a stage like that about money. I experimented with different approaches and what finally worked was to (1) avoid the subject by getting bank statements online rather than by mail and (2) ask how much money she needed, insisting on an answer, and give her the cash.

She stopped obsessing about it and gradually mentioned it less and less until now she rarely brings it up. And if I could just find those two $20s that disappeared in her room, everything would be great.

Good luck and God bless.
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If you have a fireproof safe, get some cash, put it in there, and every day or whenever she "worries" about not having money, open the safe and show her. Because dementia short circuits abstract thinking, showing her a bank statement really will not help. She needs to be able to touch it. Plus if she went through the Great Depression, mostly everyone was very, very poor and she remembers how difficult it was then, and that is where her mind is right now in long-term memory. I gave my husband a crisp $5 bill yesterday and he was so excited (anymore and he will misplace it or lose it). Then later last night when we were talking before sleeping, he remembered he had some money to buy me a valentine card today. That was some 10 hrs. later from when I gave him the money. Try that and see how it works!
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Yes, I believe in seniors doing for their selves, whenever the items are coming into the house (that she loses) like her glasses (from her knitting bag, she uses when going to daycare) I place them on the nightstand where she will read her magazine when going to bed. She really only uses glasses for that one activity. We have a second pair that goes with her knitting in the living room (just in case, she needs them) has stopped her from pocketing and losing them, we also configured our new place to mimic her old one and things like shoes come off at the front door and are placed on shelves, right under where she hangs her jackets, etc.
We found these "ritual" patterns to be beneficial in overcoming anxiety and other issues without medicating, they are just part of the routine.

DENTURES-We also have other issues such as soaking the dentures, she never wants to take them out of her mouth, I soak them for a half hour every morning from the beginning of the shower till completely dressed, to keep her from asking for them or going searching for them i hide them in the kitchen, because if they were in the bathroom, they would never soak.
I think sometimes dementia/ALZ is linked with an obsessive compulsive disorder, either they did internal obsessing early on, which manifests itself now in external dialogue and action, I think the obsessing action was always there, people.

I believe, as long as people functioned, they were not diagnosed years ago, as they are today and also many things, like OCD or the varying degrees of Autism Spectrum disorder are new, in comparison to diagnosis gone 80,90 years ago and were kept private, if ever talked about and of course, we their children were to be seen and not heard.


My father when my grandmother died said he could not find the will, the bankbooks, etc, because she always hid everything and now that he is 83,
he hides everything and while I try to talk to him about it, he just wont budge.
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I just got a good tip from a memory clinic, yesterday, for my Mom's own memory loss (which leads to anxiety and she stresses about her finances, like your Mom, just as one example). I don't know if it might help you, but here it is:

Get a white board and put it in a central location. Write the things on it that she forgets. Maybe you could write:" Mom's bank balance is $552" and "Mom's credit card is in her purse." I think you'll have to remind her the white board is there if you do this, though.

I figure this -- I think my Mom will obsessively look at this white board. It might not be a good habit, but she can look at it more quickly than she can sometimes get me to get an answer. Also, she feels guilty bothering me, so she sometimes just sits and stresses about it. AND, if I have to answer the question fewer times, might be good for me, too.

In my Mom's case, I'm trying to get her in habits where she can find out for herself. I remind her to look at her bank book in her purse. She sometimes gets pretty testy about this. I only give in when she's especially obstinate or I'll be answering for her instead of getting her into the habit. Not everyone is capable of figuring out how to look in their purse to get a bank book and the balance, though. My mom's functioning is still pretty good and she's having a little bit of a hard time with this, what was a lifetime habit, now she's struggling with.
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