Mom is paranoid. She thinks children are stealing her money. Any advice?

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My mother has been experiencing depression and anxiety last 2 years. She was calling from Florida that she can't handle my father. We ( brother and sister) had trust set up for parents money. Have taken over banking ( bills). We made 4 trips in 5 months to evaluate and hire home health aids. Mother fired them X 2 after we left. Moved parents from Florida to PA to be able to help. Parents chose and bought in Independent living situation. Moved parents to new independent arrangement. encouraged participation in many activities Had 5 hours daily care for father, so mother could have time to participate i Bridge , Church , Shopping. We visited frequently. Had them every weekend. Dad died 3/14. Mom was depressed and anxious. We requested she seek help. We took a family trip without mother 7 months after dad's death, Mom 87 with walker not capable of trip and tour Mother bought airline ticket and had a cousin drive her car to Florida. House there taken care of by caretakers. She left the day we were to return from trip. We agreed if that is where she wanted to be Fine. We flew down to make sure all was well. She did not bring key to house could not put heat on in house when it got cold . Didn't know how to work the TV remote. We were frightened to leave her but she was belligerent and saying hateful things about her being independent and we were trying to take away her independence . She wants to " die in Florida". So we left. She is forgetful , repeats herself constantly. I suggested again she seek Phycological help. She has given away money, lots of money. She is physically capable of taking care of herself but questionable mentally. She started hateful statements and argumentative behavior in December. We begged her to come home for Christmas. She at times is delightful and happy but for the most part can't remember thing we told her. She told us she saw a doctor and he said she has the mind of a 25 year old . There is always some neighbor or friend who has a drama going on with their children. We hear it every call. She called both my daughters in tears that My brother and I are stealing her money. My one daughter does all her bills electronically and is on her checking account . She looks over my mothers spending and bills and tries to keep her in check. We all looked over her accounts and saw nothing out of place. Mother insisted she go to a lawyer and seek help with the matter. We agreed . Mother went to lawyer who conference us on a call. Lawyer suspects dementia . But gave no direction on how we can help.
She calls me and everyone at least once a week crying that we are greedy and can't wait until she dies to steal from her. From what she tells me is still going to church daily and having dinner with friend. She told me she would call the police if we came. She is not going back to PA . We are lost . We don't know how to help her and she is very good at being normal at times. I cry every day I can't help her or comfort her. We have suggested everything you can imagine. A care person to check up on her anything she wants. She wants to sell property in PA and not come up for settlement . We have set that up. She wants me to get rid of all the furniture and clean up the place for sale. We have begun to do this. She called today and want to change her will and give money to church. My parents had already given over $100,000 to church. my mother gave church another $20,000 in the last 3 months. We don't care what she wants to do with her money after she is gone but she needs to keep it for her care now, and considering genetics, that may be a long time. My mother had an Aunt who acted the same way. Paranoia and aggressive behavior. My mom took her to Florida and had her placed in a nursing facility . Aunt was there for 12 years. My mom's aunt caught the kitchen on fire trying to cook. So there was no question about taking over her
care. Her Aunt exhibited all the strange behavior my mom is doing now. But we were told we had to wait until she was a danger to herself or others. Is this the same case now? My Aunt burned herself in the kitchen fire before she called 911.
Screamed in the ER at the top of her lungs to get the police when my mothers brother came to help. Screamed that he was stealing her money. So it was quite easy to have her declared incompetent and have her placed in guardianship .
What do we do ? We are at a loss. HELP!!!

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Mom needs to be seen by her doctor and he/she needs to know what you are seeing as far as mom's behavior & spending habits. this could be a sign of dementia. Go with your mom to an elder law attorney so she can plan ahead. If she is in the early stages of dementia she may still be able to complete an advance directive and may want to name a durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances in the event she is unable to communicate her wishes and care for herself. She may just be depressed after dad's death. You can arrange for in home assistance, give mom some choices, as much as possible so it doesn't feel like you've taken over completely. She may be afraid, knowing she is getting older and with dad's death she may fear death for herself. Be supportive, but remember she does have a right to life her own life. You can always contact adult protective services to check on her, it always helps to have a second opinion. Good luck.
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My mom had a similar reaction. Went so far as to have a lawyer send me a letter. She hardly had any money. She was not much later diagnosed with Dementia.
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Sounds like psychosis which my mother had. Have her evaluated ASAP. There are sometimes certain personality types that are prone to this. Took a year to turn my mother around and it was awful. She thought my husband was taking her things and trying to kick her out of the MIL apt. Thought he didn't want to feed her etc and he's more compassionate with her than I am. Start with subtle changes but can end up full blown! Definitely needs evaluation and many elderly seem to suffer from this. Best of luck.
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Your story is the typical transition of the first few stages of dementia. My Ma is beyond that now. but was there about 18mth ago, and in hindsight had dementia for the past 8yrs where really she had needed care for. But while Pa was alive the two of them, managed to maintain a false life of coping. Her paranoia, her wanting to be else where, the inability to do anything for herself is just the routine picture.
You are not doing her an injustice by seeking help. A mental health check where they test for compentency will bring home the cold fact. Your mother is not coping and needs 24/7 care. My Ma couldn't even do the clock face one. Abused the psychiatrist that came to the house to do the test, and only answered one of the questions, without first asking me, what the answer was. She suddenly couldn't understand what the doctor was saying and blamed his accent [he didn't have one] it was her way of denying she didn't understand the question. the abuse of you regarding the money is she doesn't know how to control her funds anymore its become difficult ..... so being human she is blaming someone else.
BTW don't worry that she will hold your trying to help her, against you, its one of the few things they remember !!!!! The rest they will forget within a week
So tuck away a few tissues, put some cardboard shoulder pads on, and take 3 ounces of humour with you, I promise that in 5yrs time, nah, actually 5wks time you will realise you did the right thing, the only thing, for her
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Please pay particular attention to Salisbury's advice to get your own attorney and not rely solely upon your parent's estate planning attorney. If they've made any mistakes, they are going to do everything they can to cover it up when you start investigating and asking questions. And they do not have to tell you the truth or anything at all, since everything your parents discussed with their attorney is privileged and does not need to be disclosed to you. Even the appointed POA doesn't need to be informed -- remember, that lawyer still represents just your parents, not the POA. A POA should always have his or her own attorney. My mom's attorney even let her change her POA, even though he should have known that she wasn't compentent to sign anything and she certainly did not understand it (she cannot read and never has been able to read). He knew enough to let me know that he advised her against it, but still allowed it and let her sign. If you have siblings, have the your attorney also draw up an agreement between the siblings to cover his employment and clearly outline the expectations and responsibilities of each sibling, in that agreement and include who is responsible for paying for that lawyer. Otherwise, I would advise each sibling to get his or her own attorney, so that your opinions are taken into consideration. Otherwise you will have absolutely no influence or say in any of it. I know this is expensive, but you can really, really get screwed, and your parent can end up in horrible straits.
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My heart goes out to you. My Mother went through the same scenario. It is so difficult to watch someone you love succumb to dementia. In our case Mother's doctor declared her incapable to make decisions for herself. We then contacted a lawyer to draw up the papers to become her Mental and Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney. The lawyer suggested we pursue guardianship of her until he found out she really did not have much money. In your case it sounds like Mom has enough money to manage that guardianship would be a good idea. Guardianship involves the Dr's statement that Mom is no longer able to manage her resources. You must go before a judge with your mom. Of course she may get angry with you but it is in her best interest. Give it some thought. It sounds like it may be the best course of action to keep her safe. Best wishes on this journey.
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There is a book 36 hours in a day which I read after coming back from the UK after caring for my Mum for seven weeks, She lost things on a daily basis and hid her money,credit card,bus pass etc in different places and at night in her pillow, it was a nightmare! When I got back she sent me a nasty letter accusing me of stealing all kinds of things,reading that book really helped,I got it from the library. As I am 4000 miles away it is tough and my sisters aren't speaking to me as they believe Mum,but I can only hope they will wake up and get her the help she needs before a disaster occurs,meanwhile I pray for my Mum,Good Luck because it is all tragic.
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May I expand upon what Zookeeper said:

Her "in between" period is what I call the DANGER ZONE: it begins when the elder is no longer able to make rational decisions and plans. It ends when the family figures this out and takes charge. The really scary part of the Danger Zone is that THE ELDER CAN SOUND RATIONAL TO OUTSIDERS. This is well-documented here and is often referred to as "showboating." As the nice person from the Area Agency on Aging said when she visited my mom," She can mask her problems but as the visit when on, she became unable to keep it up." The visit was three hours.

During this Danger zone, my mother called the stock broker and asked him to send her $30K. He believed her--she sounded rational. He sold stock to do this, and when I found and returned the check, he called and explained that "my mother didn't have any spending money." He actually gasped when I told him that my mother had $72K in a non-interest bearing checking account. The truth was, my poor mother THOUGHT she was getting money form her checking account (which she didn't need, BTW) when she called the stock broker. She was totally confused. She had forgotten that she could go to the bank to get money.

So, as Zookeeper said, do not drop the ball during the Danger Zone. Take strong, decisive action. And, of course, you need a lawyer to do this. Your mom's lawyer didn't advise you because he was, after all, her lawyer. You and your family need your own.
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Wonderful advice given. I'd like to add that realistically, You or someone in the family is going to have to file for guardianship on her. She is beyond making decisions on her own, even if she gets her behavior under check as dementia will continue to cause her decline. If there is no family in FL, then you have a hard choice: let her become a ward of the state ofbFL or you find a FL law firm that does guardianships within their practice - she has $$ it sounds like so I'd suggest this route. Also you can work with law firm guardian to get her moved from FL to wherever there is more family to oversee her person.
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when my mom started forgetting and getting very confused and was starting to think"others" had taken or moved this or that we went to the doctor and he prescribed her "memory" pills. I made a big difference however the first kind(Aricept) gave her digestion problems and sore stomach so he switched her to Exelon patch, she is on 5mgs now and there are no digestion problems however her memory isn`t top shape but when she switches to 10 mgs I am hoping it will be better because the 10mgs of the Aricept was fabulous (except for the digestion probs)...she was back to the way she was before. Maybe your mom could benefit by taking some of these new médications for "memory".
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