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My mom is in her early 70’s has always been financially savvy her entire life. She has been widowed since her early 50’s and was left a very comfortable life. I am a only child and she has never disclosed any of her finances to me, I respected her right to do so until recently.


Last year she started telling me she was going broke, at first I found this hard to believe, and brushed it off. My mother lives 10 hours from me. We talk often...but do not see each other much..our relationship can be complicated. After repeated I am broke comments and I need to sell my home..I paid her visit.


While I was visiting my mother, I noticed she had already packed up most of her belongings, the house and grounds very well taken care of. She told me (never showed me one bank account or any financial records) that she was completely broke except for her social security and a few credit cards that she was close to reaching her credit limit. I immediately became concerned, I asked to see these bills and bank accounts but she refused to show me..and accused me of implying she was lying. I stressed we need to sell her home immediately.. she has a lot of equity in it.. and stop this financial bleed. I offered to hire a house keeper and help her financially but I wanted to see her fiances and wanted the home listed ASAP.


She got very angry with me and we had the worst fight ever, she was not giving up any control..I became so frustrated I told her fine, do it your way, I am over this.


After I left, her house was suppose to be put up for sale every week, that was almost 7 months ago and now she wants me to send her money to continue to live there. I refused, stating I was willing to help you 7 months ago and you refused, currently there are some issues with my own home (roof leaking and water/mold damage)...and that extra money is being spent on costly repairs. I told her time to make some calls to her bank and list the property, all should be fine when it sells. She states she will list it..but not now, she borrowed money from her friend.


My mother has never in her life been financially ignorant.. ever. One of my mother’s best traits was her ability to manage money her entire life. I know she loves her home and does not want to come down in lifestyle, but I am afraid she is going to lose everything if she does not put the home up for sale...her home and property are quite costly to care for.


This is stressing me out, she is not incompetent however clearly depressed and in denial over her financial problems she acknowledges them but fails to act. I am beyond frustrated and am unable to support her. What can I do? She does not want my advice or input only my wallet..and that is not going to happen. She has never borrowed money from anyone her entire life..very proud..now all of sudden she borrows money..she can’t pay back and refuses to put her home up for sale? I don’t think she has dementia..and if she is truly depressed she will never seek treatment for..no making me feel guilty is more fun...she has now started lying about things..I am at my wits end!


I love her, I tried to help, we can not live together, and I am starting to become bitter at her for putting herself in this predicament and expecting me at some point to pay the price of her selfishness.

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I would go so far as to find a friendly bank official in her bank and advise them of your concerns. They cannot give you any information, but it is in their interests to check things out. Making them aware of possible problems at least gives them a heads up. In this day of the increasing aging population and increased incidence of dementia they may not be unfamiliar with family concerns.

It sounds like your mother's behaviour has changed which is a sign of illness, possibly a dementia. I think it would help you to see her in that light rather than just stubborn and uncooperative. It isn't easy. Looking back now at some of mother's behaviour before she was diagnosed with vascular dementia, if I had realized I might have dealt a little differently with her,
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Lululost Mar 4, 2019
Yes I agree with ur statement, a Dementia dx would definitely change my feelings.
All of this seem to start ironically when my husband received a inheritance. The money helped us out of a bad situation, and it was at that time...my mother started to make insinuating she was not doing well financially. Now in the passing months it has escalated..I have no clue what to believe. My husband remembers when my father died and my mom got a whole new lifestyle due to insurance money...he remembers us struggling as a young family..and her statements hard times make u stronger. We did get through it, but he has never forgotten those words. So when I ask for financial statements etc to help her out financially it’s not to hurt her..but to understand what is going on and to appease my husband..for we have our own retirement to look out for. We have helped his mother..she was a open book..she had far less money than my mother..and well it was bound to run out. But my mother has always been difficult and rude at times per my husband...so he is not so inclined to see any warm fuzzy feelings for her..and honestly I do not blame him.
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Clearly this is difficult and a real source of stress for you. However I am also in my early 70s, and I would not react well if my daughter ‘stressed that we need to sell my home immediately’. I wouldn’t calm down if she then asked (demanded?) to see all my financial information. I’m not really surprised that mother didn’t want to give up control. If there is anything for her to feel ashamed of, eg being scammed or simply overspending, she is even more likely to be very upset over the whole thing.

If your mother is or was financially savvy, she should be aware of the sort of requirements a bank would make before approving a loan. Can you sell her on the idea of putting together a formal loan request? Or offer to vet anything that she writes as a draft? It would help her to be realistic and business-like. An alternative to a loan request would be a budget for the next five years. If the subject has become too difficult for your own involvement, could you find her a financial counsellor who could help? You may be able to find a non-profit agency that provides a service that would assist.

Another approach might be to take her to see living options that she might find acceptable when down sizing. Fear of the unknown is very real, and so is fear of not being able to cope with organising change.

I hope that you can both find a way out of this. It is probably following on many other problems that make it even harder.
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Lululost Mar 4, 2019
Thank you for ur insight...when I visited 7 months ago and she told me she was broke except for social security and the equity in her home...she had talked of selling it months before..I offered financial help and whatever else might be needed but I wanted the home put on the market ASAP and I wanted to see financial records to see what has happened....I do not think anything wrong with it.
She tried to get loans and was turned down..I do not understand because her credit used to be perfect.
I have no plans to invade her life..or control her financial life..but when she paints a picture of being desitude and now borrowing money from a longtime friend...I have to wonder what the heck is going on.
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Lulu, what you can do is involve people who are near your mother and able to assess what the real problems are.

Your uncle is nowhere near her and doesn't see her regularly. And besides, what are you expecting him to do? If she won't talk to him, and he's not familiar enough with her normal routine to spot changes, how can he help?

Arguing with her will get you nowhere: because her altered, almost paranoid, behaviour towards you is just one of the red flags you've noticed, it is no surprise that she is not willing to talk to you.

Without better information, of course there is absolutely nothing you can do to help. Say that something *has* gone wrong - it could be illness, it could be some kind of scam she's fallen for that has made her too ashamed to seek help, it could be an accounting error that has knocked her confidence, it could be almost anything.

But something has changed and you need to find out what.

Rocket's credit report idea seems a good one
Contact her doctor
Check with the local office to see if there are any property tax arrears

These are all basic steps you can take. The important point to grasp is that if she is ill or in real trouble, your mother is the last person who can give you the information you need.
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Lululost Mar 4, 2019
My mother has no close friends that are alive where she lives.
My uncle and she are very close, and in the past he has helped me tackle issues with her...and been successful.
She has seen numerous doctors over the years, have no idea which one she see’s at present.
I have checked property records on line and have found no delinquent records.
My mother picked to live far away from her family for her own reasons, she lives a pretty isolated life, by her own choosing.
When I visited her 7 months ago, I did my best to try to help her and get answers, yes she acts paranoid at times, but she has always had this tendency.
She has a naracisstic personality and I believe this is why she isolated herself, she must be in control at all times.
We have had our ups and downs over the years, despite all she is my mother and I have always plAnned on helping her however I could.
My hands feel tied, because in the eyes of the law she has not been deemed incompetent, and still has her faculties enough to pass any test a doctor could do at this time.
I have suffered my own financial blow and worked very hard to get back on my feet, have two kids and college and must think about stock piling for my own retirement.
I am very hurt and angry with her over all of this, she is entitled to live and do how she pleases, but thought of her possibly ruining her financial resources and becoming a financial dependent upon me..when I do not have my retirement yet secured...angers me beyond words.
She also resides in a state where filial law exists, that state I live in does not have this law...not sure how that would play out...a friend just made me aware of this law last night.
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I am going to be really blunt. It is going to take a whole lot more than praying about it.
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Lululost Mar 2, 2019
I am trying to persuade her to let me in to help..we have had really bad verbal fights about this..I am at my wits end..which is why I asked my Uncle to see what he can do...legally at this point in the game..my hands are tied...and my mother is not budging in her stance. So yes I pray..and wait..this all has been going on for well over a year..I am not giving up by any means..but I can only do so much at this point..it totally sucks.
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Funny she wants help but she doesn't want help. See if your Office of Aging knows of a credit advisor. Ask Mom if she would talk to one. That way you don't need to know. She sounds like someone who has always been in control and she has lost that control. So it becomes overwhelming. She wants to sell her house but just can't get motivated. The longer she waits, the more debt she will be in. One step at a time. Get the house on the market. Find her a Credit advisor. Clean out the house selling what you can.
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People with dementia can still walk, talk, and screw up their own lives and yours with a just a few phone calls, emails, and visits to a bank or lawyer. In addition to dementia, consider the possibility she was scammed and does not want to admit it. Scammers can come via phone, mailbox, email, social media, and the front door. Ask your uncle to take her out for dinner or some other excuse. While they are gone, you search for her bank statements, credit card statements, bills, etc. Take pix with your phone! You can also find the current deed to her house and info on her property taxes at a county government web site. Next, create an email dedicated to her issues only. Then, go to the web site called Credit Karma and use her name, info, and the email to create a Credit Karma account. This will show all credit lines she has open. Next, try to create a log-in for each of her bank accounts and other financial accounts. If you can create a new log-in, it means no one else has done it first and you will have easy access to her info. If you can't create a log-in, it means someone else has already created one--maybe it was your mother, or maybe it was a scammer, housekeeper, landscaper, or "friend." You can also go the web sites of her doctors--they each probably have a patient portal, which your mother probably has not used. Create a log-in for the patient portals of her doctors and find info on her diagnoses and prescriptions. It's possibly she is having an adverse reaction to prescription medications. She might be taking high doses of anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, sleeping pills, even stimulants, prescribed by multiple doctors who are not aware of each other--actually a common situation. Hope this helps!
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NewGirl Mar 2, 2019
Wow! You gave great advice!😊
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I have found with my own mom that any bill brings on the "I am broke" whine. Have to pay taxes because you have money? "I am going broke" Need to fix the sweet ride you refuse to let me sell because you always had one.. " I am going broke" No she is not, and I tell her that. But it's all doom and gloom. At least I am on her bank accounts and I know what is going on.. too bad she wont make you POA so you can get a handle on this. Hopefully brother can. Mom likes the drama.. she had hubs count the loose money she stashes in her desk this week.. It was 3x my monthly salery... LOL If she wont let us put it in her bank account we'll add it to her stash in the safe.. we're gonna look like drug dealers when she passes...
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I feel for you. If your mother does not want to show you her financials, maybe they are really gone and she is truly ashamed or maybe they’re ok, and she’s calling out for attention by saying she’s broke... Particularly if the house isn’t sold yet? It’s hard to know, but something is clearly wrong.

If she’s going to scream and holler at you when all you want to do is make sure she is physically and financially safe, there is only so much you can do, and probably at this point, have done. And if she’s coming after you for money, that’s probably really all she wants. There is probably very little you can do to please her.
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Lulu, I'm so glad that you've reached out to her brother! That was pretty brilliant.

Let us know what happens; we really do learn from each other here.
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Lululost Mar 2, 2019
I can only hope that he can reach her and pray. I really would hate for her to lose the last of her monies by losing her home. Legally I can not do much, without her cooperation, feeling helpless watching this is the worst.
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“I am concerned something is up with her mental capacity...”

Lulu, I’m going to be blunt. Most of us on this forum did not think our mothers had dementia for the first XX years they had dementia.

Most of us learned too late that the early signs are: Agitation. Poor judgment. Odd fixations. Inability to “follow through.” Taking offense at common-sense questions. Rabid mistrust. Misrepresenting their challenges.

And no, early 70s is not too young.

I am not wishing this upon you. But it is certainly possible.

As an added kick in the butt, the ones who act like your mother will find every reason to not be medically/neurologically evaluated.

Lulu, keep coming back to AC Forum for support. Dementia or not, your mother has plunged you into the parallel universe of elder-care.

Very little of this new life makes sense. But the folks here can help you connect the dots. And help you establish boundaries - so you don’t sink with the ship.

((((big hugs))))
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Lululost Mar 2, 2019
I have thought of this too...but it is hard living so far away..I am hoping involving my Uncle.. will provide us with more insight to this issue. My mother is certainly acting out of character on this. Feeling helpless truly is the worst, but legally at this point I cannot force her to do anything.
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I have a friend in a very similar situation. She has her 3 grandkids living with her, and she was going to sell the house and live on the proceeds until they were all gone...no planning whatsoever involved here. Father is MIA and refuses to pay a dime for child support--but hey, he doesn't HAVE to b/c she took the kids and there's no legal agreement.

She, too, made the promise "I'm listing the house next week, I swear" for 4 long months, while all her stuff was packed into giant moving pods in her driveway and I was paying for it.

Finally, I said "You take over the maintenance fees on these pods, I am out as of 12/31/18 and she blew up at me and said "well, thanks for the PRESSURE, now I have no choice". I walked away and somehow she put most everything back in the house and garage, Well, basement apartment, where she is sqaushed into living wiht 3 horrid kids and then somebody "gifts them" a standard poodle puppy. She can't afford GROCERIES for the kids and she has to feed a da&n dog?

But she just SITS there. Doesn't open her mail, doesn't answer her phone...just sits. I know her house is in pre-foreclosure and she doesn't seem to even care.

The bank has been awesome to work with her, but she's 7 months behind---foreclosure is a surety.

I can't help her, she refuses to help herself, and everyone in our church family is beyond exhaustion with the situation.

All because she refused to make some tough decisions.
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I’m not sure exactly how this would be accomplished but would it be possible to run a credit check on her, through experion or one of those online bureaus? Not just the score, but the full report. I think you may just need her social security number. You may learn more about her situation there.

Also do you know who the friend is from whom she borrowed money? Can you talk to that person, and find out if that story is legitimate?
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Beekee Mar 2, 2019
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Lulu, as others have said here, YOU are not on the hook for your mom's financials. If she goes bankrupt, you are not obligated to pay her bills, debts or rent. Just be very clear on that from the start.

Does she have friends or neighbors you are in contact with? Do you know the name of her doctor?

It is entirely possible to be left comfortably as a widow and 20 years later have nothing left. Bad financial advise, high investment fees, " sequence of return risk"...The last 20 years have included 2 huge financial meltdowns, the 2000-2001 dotcom bubble and the 2008 housing crisis. If she sold at a loss during either or both of those times ( and lots of people did) and wasn't earning to replace those losses, it's entirely possible her nest egg is gone.

It's also embarrassing to her that she's seen as a savvy person. How could this happen to me?!?!

I have no good answer for you. But tell your mom that if she wants solid financial advice, the Boglehead Forum (followers of the advice of Jack Bogle of Vanguard) is the place to go. It's anonymous and free.
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Sorry - just to be clear: after all these months and increasingly heated and fraught discussions, you *still* have not set eyes on a single statement of any description? You've seen absolutely nothing in writing?

So, actually, you have no idea what your mother's real financial situation is?

And this conversation, on and off, has continued for seven months?

You went to visit her and she had packed up many of her belongings, while the house and grounds themselves looked normal and well-maintained. No further developments on the panic sale and moving idea. When was this visit, exactly?

You need somebody else's opinion on your mother's everyday behaviour. You need to know if anybody else has noticed anything odd or unusual. You must know *someone* else who sees her or at least speaks to her regularly, don't you?

Obviously, not knowing you or your mother we can't possibly understand what's normal for the dynamic between the two of you; but this apparent obsession of hers, which she's partly acted on but then taken no further, could be a sign of something seriously wrong and needs investigating. She won't let you; okay, that's getting you nowhere. So: what other way is there to start finding out?

This is frightening and frustrating for you, but her demands for money from you are *not* *real* - clearly they're not, a financial crisis doesn't go on for seven months with not a single development; and even if God forbid they were and she'd lost her mind and maxed out half a dozen lines of credit and given all her money to a Nigerian internet scam, you still could not be liable for her debts.

It's very difficult, but try to let go of any feelings that are to do with what she's doing to you. The thing to be concerned about is that something seems to have gone "ping" in her head, and we need to find out what. You also comment, finally, that she has started lying about things. That makes me think this is urgent. Where might you start asking questions?
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Lululost Mar 2, 2019
My mother is very private...she has acquaintances(that live around her)but tells them nothing. She borrowed the money from one of her few longtime friends...who I found out spent time cleaning and packing up her house for her.
Our immediate family is very small. I contacted my Uncle her brother to help..if anyone can reach her he can..besides me he’s the only other relative not scared of her temper.
Doctors in the past have said her personality is very narcissistic in nature..and I must agree with that..she will lie and manipulate to get her end goal...fully aware of this..as is my Uncle.
However this time she lied to me trying to get the money she wanted..and I called her bluff directly on it...she has never done that before.
When I talked to my Uncle the first thing he wanted to know is what happened to all her money...he seemed to have more knowledge about what my father left her than I had..and I told him I honestly do not know. I have tried to ask her to show me and she refuses.
My Uncle has tried to call her..but they have not spoken yet. My mother immediately called me, saying did you call my brother? I said yes, because I am worried..and if I can’t reach you...he’s the only one that can. So I am hoping against hope he breaks through to her. But currently she is avoiding his calls.
My mother does not smoke, drink or do drugs. The only thing I can guess at...and truly a shot in the dark..she does like online poker(but the sites are supposedly free)..growing up she never ever had any gambling issues...so I really doubt gambling is a issue..but I am racking my head trying to figure it out.
I am concerned something is up with her mental capacity...because borrowing money from people and delaying this house sale for well over a year when she is apparently broke...is very out of character for her. Her story is not adding up. I have tried to demand yell and scream..I have tried not discussing it at all...by telling her I do not want to hear it, you are a adult you will handle it....I tried babying her. Nothing has worked. I hate to violate her confidence by calling my Uncle..but as a only child I am out of options. My Uncle knows her friend she borrowed money from and he will follow up with her as need be. All of this will anger my mother greatly, but we need answers. My Uncle lives 10 or 20 hours away from her, depends on which one of his homes he is at...but stated if he needs to go visit he shall...my fingers are crossed that he will get to the bottom of this.
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This is certainly a sad and odd dilemma. I gather there is no one you can contact who might be aware of her situation. I feel that you might just have to tell her that unless she levels with you there can be no more contact. You certainly can't simply give her money. Even if you had it to spare the issues you describe are far too serious. I doubt if one loan to her would suffice. It would be good if she would agree to meeting with a lawyer who specializes in elder care with you present to try to work towards a solution. If she continues to be so stubborn you need to tell her you can't have this relationship that is causing so much stress and possibly disastrous consequences. I can understand the frustration having a mother myself who has caused some financial headaches. I hope you can do what you must to help yourself going forward.
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Desperate people do desperate things. Is she able to work?
When she wants money, Will she tell you how much it will take to get her solvent?
Can you check her taxes to see if they are paid?
When you said that she had started lying, can you give examples? Look up confabulation. Very very smart people can develop dementia. Also look up showtiming.
I hope you can figure this out before she gets in too much trouble.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Does she have a church she attends? Perhaps they can help. Does she have a finacial planner or someone who helps her with money decisions. Can you speak with her friend about your concerns
are there services availability where she lives eg local council, Salvos who help the elderly with social workers and financial problems. Who does she turn to for comfort and advice. Can you get them to help
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Lululost Mar 1, 2019
She does not attend a church..I have brought up her seeking assistance through any senior assistance programs..but her denial or pride will not permit her too.
Selling her home would solve a lot of her financial worry, but leaving her dream home and coming down in lifestyle is almost paralyzing her. Ironically I went through some very hard financial times 7 years ago..I had to sell off everything and start over..she gave me the best advice..and although it was hard..I did it and rebuilt it all back. I bring this up to her, I tell her it is hard..I was in worse shape than she is..how can the person who gave me the best financial advice..act as ignorant as she is being?
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My mother was yours until she was not. And when they are or have been financially savvy it's a battle. A big one
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