I am so frustrated. My mom (mid-stage Alzheimer's) lives on Social Security and has very little money left in any IRA or 401K. She lives with me and in addition to paying the mortgage and utilities, I help buy her food and pay for her cell phone bill. She keeps writing checks to all of these sketchy political organizations and charities. The more checks she writes, the more requests for money she gets. She writes about 5 checks a month. I took her checks away, and she finds more checks. I just don't know what to do! I tell her, she may have a small amount of money right now, but eventually she is going to run out. Then I'm going to have to pay for more stuff for her. And I am less and less willing to do that if she keeps giving her money away. I can either have the mail sent to a PO box to stop the requests from coming in, or somehow discontinue checks on her accounts. Not sure the best solution. I'm not sure what her obsession is with donating to these weird organizations. She gives to her church weekly and the Alzheimer's Association, which I am fine with. Sorry. Felt better just to vent that out loud. I welcome any ideas on helping my mom be more financially responsible and not falling for what I am sure are frauds and scams.

Find Care & Housing
I am a strong proponent of people paying their way. Mum should be paying room and board and her cell phone bill. You should not be subsidizing her basic living expenses while she has an income. If you are paying her way, you are in effect making all these donations.

How does Mum get the cheques into the mail? Does she take it to the mail box? If no, then you could intercept the mail on its way out the door. I know some may criticize me for this suggestion, but it may be a solution.

The other option is to intercept the mail when it comes in. Getting a PO Box is one way of doing that.

Mum had a friend who was suck in this donation loop and when Mum became POA, she sat down with her friend and discussed which charities were important to her and made one annual donation on her behalf. Then Mum tossed all the incoming requests.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Tothill
Beatty Apr 28, 2020
Yes I do this too. One list, once a year. Then guilt free into the bin with the rest.

No to all door & phone requests too with "Thankyou, I may consider your charity for next year".
Are you her POA or legal guardian? If not, you should try to make that happen.
Are you on her checking account?
Again, if not, you need to make it happen.
The PO box may be a good idea.
You can weed out her mail.
I understand it's hard, but if there is anyway to find her checks, put them away for safe keeping.
Perhaps give her the checks for her Church and Alzheimer's foundation.
With Alzheimer's/ Dementia, she literally is not in her right mind. You have to be her "right mind "!
She's blessed to have you looking out for her!
Hang in there!
God bless!!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to xrayjodib
Kblanchat74 Jun 1, 2020
Thank you very much!
My mother did that until my sister gained full authority via the POA and took away her checkbook and all forms of ID. She just snuck Mom's purse out one day and we never addressed it with Mom ever again. But to this day even though Mom is dead and gone I still get letters from the environmental organizations she sent check after check to.. sometimes three times a month to the same one. Do yourselves a favor. Get the POA and do not wait for a scam thief to take everything she owns.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to DugganB

I can’t believe the huge amount of mail that older people receive and the stories they tell will break your heart. . It’s no wonder that we fall prey to scammers. I believe making donations to charities she holds dear helps my mil feel like she has a small amount of control over a life with her increasing dementia. We sat down with her and got a POA and chose certain donations to be made. We write the checks. She seems to be at peace with that setup. I like the idea of opening the gifts and giving those to her. Makes the day a little brighter to receive a gift, doesn’t it?
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Hbcoble

I hope you have POA. If she is in early stage of Dementia you may still be able to have her assign you. The other option would be guardianship which is expensive.

Get the mail before she does. If you have to set up a PO box for just her, do it. Then u pick up the mail. If a stamped-self addressed envelope is included, put all paperwork back in the envelope circling where Moms address is and in big letters..."take me off your mailing and phone lists". If they don't send an envelope, email. Put the address in exactly hoe they have it. Tell them Mom has Dementia and is on a very limited budget. She cannot afford to send u money.

I cut back on a lot of Moms mail this way.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

When Mom came to live with me I did an address change. It used to be, they would not forward junk mail. Well some of these junk mail places got smart and started using first class mail stamps. Then I thought, oh good, only the companies I made address changes to will be sending mail. The junk mail will be going to old address and after 18 months the PO will not forward. WRONG! Somehow the charities were able to get the new address and I started getting mail. Complained to the PO, not their fault, utilities fault. I guess its just new technology but those charities were quick to change Moms address. Not that quick when you ask to be taken off their mailing list. One charity said because they were a charity, they didn't have to remove Mom. I told them they were wrong. If I request to be removed, they must do it.

I still get mail occasionally. If junk I throw out. If sent first class, I write deceased on it. Maybe thats what u should do, send back "deceased". PO only sends back first class mail. Junk mail gets thrown away.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

Hi all! Thanks so much for your responses! It makes me feel so much better. Couple of answers - in February we got rid of my mom’s car due to safety concerns. I assume she got her stockpile of stamps prior to that time. She also must have checks hidden in her room because I keep taking them and she appears with another checkbook :) She has expenses aside from household (long term care insurance, life insurance, Medicare supplemental plan, debts) that she pays from her social security. And now I have an aid who comes a couple of times a week to drive her places for her sanity. That also comes out of her Savings above and beyond her SS. She is not in a good financial situation to pay much more. Oftentimes she writes checks and they come out of her savings because the account doesn’t cover it. I manager her finances (as much as I can but she doesn’t help!!). I should have explained the big picture! I think I will try a P.O. Box, and use my POA to cancel any checks on her account. Thank you thank you!!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Kblanchat74

First step is to stop buying her food and paying her phone bill. If she can afford to "donate" money she can afford her bills.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to HelloImMinsu
Pepsi46 Apr 30, 2020
I know you mean well, but she is talking about her mother and mother just doesn't understand. Not buying her food and not having a phone will depress her even more so.
We had this problem with my MIL. One day we found out a man was coming to see her to pick up a check!!. Thank God, we found out, the man did come, but the police were waiting for him. At that point, we all had to change things ASAP. She was given a certain amount of money each week, to do with as she wished. Then, we actually moved her into one of her son's home, and hired care to come help. Yes, it sounds like it's easy with home help, but no, sorry, it's terrible. Look, my MIL was the most loving, caring, funny, woman I ever met. She treated me like her own daughter. And just because she ,(had the nerve?) to live long, but sickly, never was she abanded or made to feel that she was a burden. Look, every case is different. She only lived 1 1/2 years after that move. I felt she died knowing she was loved & cared for as best we all could.
I used to work for a large non-profit (a legit one) and it was my job to communicate with donors. Charities always use a CRM software that manages donor information. In that software, it's possible to mark donors as No Mail, No Calls, etc. plus make notes about the donor. We would occasionally get calls from folks in your situation dealing with an elderly person. It was our policy to ALWAYS refund the donations and make an alert in the software for future. Call the organizations so they at least mark her in the software. Have the mail go to a PO Box.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to TracyHD

First of all.... Do you realize that you are enabling her check writing behavior? Do you have poa? If not, get it...Then,
get her address changed to either your which would be free to her or her own which you have the only key.
Next....go through your mom's room ( perhaps on one of those days she is out ( or not) and find all the checks. You have every right to be in that room because it's your house and sounds like dementia going on so you need to take charge!
Put the found checks either in a safety deposit box or better yet, destroy them and get a debit card that only you have a pin# to.
Now...Make sure she has cash only on those days she's out having fun.
You need to charge her for rent
( which includes property taxes, homeowners insurance), food, her1/2 of the utilities etc. She should be paying her way... not out there like a child throwing her money away on candy.
If she demands a debit card, the bank will give her one but it will not be set up to work. Then the bank needs to be instructed and shown your poa not to let her have withdrawals. They can simply tell her she doesn't have access to her account.
We done this with my mom. It took a month of her complaining but stand your ground and tell her that she needs to pay the bills. If there's $ left over she can pay the scam artists out of her fun $$, but when she's out of fun$ there will be no more till the following month..meanwhile you could throw her a legit charitable donation request from the mail to contribute to...or NOT!!
Good luck, stand your ground and be strong!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Flowerhouse1952

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter