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Hello, friends. I posted last week that we recently moved my elderly mom into our home & are starting to suspect she has dementia, though she has NOT been diagnosed as such. Well, today she forgot I was working from home & made a few calls to family thinking she had the house to herself. What she had to say about me was disgusting and shocking. She has accused me of: Taking her wallet and using her credit cards for our own personal spending; Taking her checkbook and refusing to let her see any of her finances or access her own money; Planning a party for her at our house so we can use her money to purchase new patio furniture and landscaping (we've done both, but not with her money). She told my aunt (who entertained this entire conversation) that she thought we asked her to move in so she'd be with us, but all we've done since she got here is spend, spend, spend. Well, yes, that's true. We're repairing her house to put it up for sale. I know - friends tell me this is normal with dementia patients. But my mother hasn't been diagnosed with dementia yet! When we last spoke to our estate attorney about managing the sale of the house and the financial/legal stuff the one thing he said was despite me having durable POA, I need to be very careful how I manage everything until she has a dementia diagnosis on her medical record because until then, she's legally considered competent and if she ever starts making accusations, those could get a real legal hassle for me (not that I'd be legally in trouble, but that it could take a court to straighten it out...at my expense). My mother has always been very accusatory and restrictive with me towards anything of hers (she was never a mom that shared well with her kids). She started to default on her creditors and they started calling me because she wouldn't take their calls. Then she finally agreed to let me take over her finances and I was SO HAPPY when she signed the durable POA for me because I thought she had finally gotten over her distrust of me and I'd be able to help her. But now she's calling relatives when she thinks I'm not home and making these accusations? I spent a fortune to move her out here and get our house prepared for her. I can't afford any legal trouble. Even if it turns out to be nothing. Has anyone else been through this?

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Update: Well, thanks for the small favors of extended family. NOT. I would typically say that I'm not surprised my extended family (of enablers) took the stance they did when I followed up with them last night on mom's phone calls. My mother has been coddled and had excuses made for her as long as I can remember. My conversations with them always cross back to what I should be doing to adjust myself and my own behaviors to better meet my mother's personality or emotional needs. And truth is, I really don't understand why. All their stance has ever done is heap more responsibility for her bad decisions and carelessness upon them, me, and my father (before the stress finally killed him). Anyway - I very systematically and objectively went point-by-point through all the accusations that mom made to set the record straight (and let them know that, oh yes, I have an attorney and, oh yes, he has guided me on exactly how to manage things as a POA and he's happy to speak with anyone that has questions). One of my cousins didn't say much. I think she's very aware of what my mother "is" even without the dementia in play and she wants no part of my mother's drama. But her older sister, my other cousin, of course made excuses for my mother. But the real kicker is when she offered to become co-POA along with me! I responded by asking her exactly what purpose she thought that would serve? She told me that maybe it would make my mom feel more secure to have someone "consulting" with me on financial and legal decisions on her behalf. Uh huh. So I told my cousin that if my mom doesn't trust my capabilities....if COUSIN thinks she should step in...well then, maybe my mother should move in with her. Dead silence on the other end of the phone.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I've got a graduate degree in chemistry and I'm a senior manager in a Fortune 500 company responsible for 500 million dollars worth of revenue per year. Are they kidding me? They don't think I can manage 3 credit cards and a checking account that's never hit five digits? Ridiculous. I told my cousin that I do not have the time nor the interest in being babysat by my own extended family. If they think they can do a better job, I'm happy to have all her stuff shipped to their front door.
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Oy.

I'd start by calling your lawyer and asking how to protect yourself from the false accusations that may arise from these phone calls.

Second, I trust mom is on every waiting list possible for memory care.

Third, make sure you are extra good to yourself today.

I'd be shaking with rage.
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'Even if it turns out to be nothing.'

This certainly doesn't sound like nothing...I'd be FURIOUS [and I'd have definitely interrupted those phone calls if only to see her face...but maybe you are a better person than I!]

In all seriousness, I would urge you to get her to a doctor for a psychological evaluation to rule cognitive issues out of the picture. Just because she doesn't have a diagnosis does NOT mean she is 'fine', from what you have said her behaviour needs to be looked at professionally. If someone looked at her and said "that's nothing to worry about" get yourself a second opinion. It might not be Dementia but your mother might have Paranoid Personality Disorder, or any number of other mental illnesses that could cause this sort of behaviour.

I'd also encourage you to document your spending and the management of her finances, that way you have protection and proof if you need to defend yourself legally. Hopefully this never happens.

If she does have cognitive impairments, your mother might never get over her paranoia... I know that's a very harsh outcome to consider but please keep it in mind. It could be that no amount of effort on your part earns her respect or trust because she isn't rational anymore.
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Oh Scout that's awful...is hosing her down in the driveway an option??

JOKING [I hope you have the same sick sense of humour as me]

If this is her mellow I would hate to have seen her 'full mean'...I wish I had better suggestions for you Scout but from what you've shared maybe having her live in your home long term is not a good idea. It might be what is easier for her, but it sounds like it's going to be absolutely unbearable for you and your husband.

Is there a way you can plan for other arrangements for your mom, maybe not right away but something to work towards?
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Make sure you have receipts for EVERYTHING that Mom is accusing you of buying with her money. Most receipts have at least the first numbers of the credit card used on the receipts and it can be proved that they were purchased by you and not her. If you paid cash, keep the canceled check or bank statements. Be religious about this even after and if Mom is diagnosed with dementia. Keep meticulous records just in case!

As for the gossip, you do not need to prove to her friends or your relatives what you are doing or not doing. If you have a clean record with them, they will know you and your husband would never rob Mom blind. If and when Mom is diagnosed with dementia, your family and friends will understand and they may already suspect. Just to be stinky, I would approach Mom and tell her what you overheard. I’d love to see her reaction!
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Why do you have to wait for a diagnosis?  Get her on every waiting list in and out of town.
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AS if all I've told you isn't bad enough?...she also told relatives on the phone today that my husband is having an affair. Truth is, he's at the tail end of a year long project at work. To finalize it all requires 3 weeks in a row of travel. Today on the phone I could hear her telling relatives how he's cheating on me and I'm such an arrogant fool I don't even realize it. Why didn't I go in the room then and say something? I was in the home office dialed into a training call being given by my boss. I had missed the other 2 days of training for appointments with mom so I couldn't bail out today and it was a full afternoon online training. Mom has always been a pretty twisted woman. She made a lot of bad choices in her life & then sat around waiting for the same doom & gloom to happen to me. She's critical, jealous, spiteful, judgemental, and a bottomless pit of need to be loved & adored (my therapist friend has been convinced for years that mom is an undiagnosed narcissist and probably manic depressive). But she mellowed in recent years as her health declined & it just wasn't safe for her to live alone on the other side of the state anymore. That said, today's the first time I've actually heard what happens when she thinks I'm not around and she can talk about me freely. It was truly disgusting. Un-diagnosed dementia or not, it turns my stomach to think I need to help this woman bathe tonight.
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You won’t be able to stop her from gossiping about you, but you might be able to limit it somewhat. I’m assuming she’s sitting in a comfy chair chatting the day away on a cordless phone in the privacy of her own bedroom? If so, you might invest in a corded phone and place it in the kitchen. She’ll still make phone calls, but I’d bet they’ll be shorter if all she has access to is a hard kitchen chair — or better yet, a backless barstool.
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The medical description for what you Mom is saying is 'Confabulation.' Very common, very normal, very annoying. Top priority now is to get her into a Neurologist that specializes in Dementia. NOW. And make an appointment with a certified Elder Care Attorney.
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OneLastStraw, You and I DEFINITELY have the same sick sense of humor because honestly, before I even read your response I snort laughed at your screen name. You're talking some truth with that name, my friend!

Yes...once we got her moved in (3 weeks or so ago) and rapidly came to understand the extent of her cognitive "stuff" (it's probably dementia) we realized that this is probably a 6-month to 1-year arrangement tops. We're trying to keep her here for the time being because I'm still trying to get her house (3 hours away) prepared for sale. There's only so much we can tackle at once.

Do I want her here? God, no. Definitely not now that reality has made itself known to us. But I don't want to panic and start making a bunch of knee-jerk reactions on the emotions of the situation alone. I'm trying to make decisions that are best long-term for my family, and for her.

For starters, I need an official diagnosis. I've got an email out to the doctor with our laundry list of observations of the past 3 weeks and a request that she call me ASAP so we can discuss next steps for confirming whatever the hell it is that's wrong with mom.

Thursday I meet with a home health agency to get an aide in here, whether mom wants one or not, immediately. I don't care how much it costs. If if gives me some space while still assuring she's cared for, I'll gladly hook them up with her savings account. Money well spent.

After that, we'll hopefully have a diagnosis documented and can start reaching out to local facilities to inquire about their waiting lists.

Now if someone could just get my mother to keep her mouth shut until we've managed our way through all of this, life will be significantly easier. But if not, I think the hubby, daughter (9 year old) and I will be taking LOTS of walks daily to shake it all off (as my little girl puts it).
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