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How do you verify the quality of care you give? I was accused of elder abuse last February (actually the day after my birthday) by someone Id asked to look after mom in by absence for one afternoon. Social worker came, interviewed me and mom, checked our situation and found the accusation to be "unfounded". However, this person accused me of financially abusing my mother, which the social worker explained was a criminal matter that would be followed up on by police. I tried to follow up myself, but was told by police that I would just have to wait until the detective got to my case. Before this, liability was nowhere on my mind. Now I see potential for accusation everywhere. Not the least of which is that my mom has dementia and I have to guide her through a lot at this point when it comes to dealing with any administrative stuff. We did POA, a year and a half ago now, she was much more lucid then and we did it with a notary. I've been caring for mom for 10 years and getting the POA was a long neglected task that folk had been after me to get done, as well as an advanced directive. She doesn't have any assets or property, with the exemption of a piece of inherited land that is on oil lease in Texas, producing on average $200 in income quarterly. All our income is my just above minimum wage (through In Home Support) pay, her SS and non court-ordered child support my kid's dad gives dutifully every month. We are hand to mouth (rent, food, gas, car insurance, my cell phone, utilities) very,very little disposable income. I don't keep a record, budget etc. but my guess is that my bank statement tells the story of our income and my expenditures pretty directly. Lately she is concerned/ anxious/complaining, that she has no money, that I don't give her money. I feel like this could easily be translated into some kind of notion that i'm "taking her money". I dunno. All Im doing is struggling to get by on whatever we get (yes we Iive together), and I never thought it was a violation to pool our monies. With her fading memory, increasing confusion I dunno what she might feel at whatever point. She also often tells me "you really don't want to be bothered with me, you're always angry at me, I don't like the way you treat me", if she sees my frustration or I get impatient etc. I could see this translating into my mistreating her and i dunno how to protect myself. Of late, she also tells me daily how much she appreciates me, how sweet I am to take care of her, and the like, very sweet and helpful. It's only me taking care of her, very few visitors except my boyfriend. I feel like I have no witnesses to what I do and don't do to vouch for me. The idea of her in a facility is really unbearable for me, unless it's end of life hospice care. Im in for the duration, but really want to feel like I can protect myself successfully from liability.

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The only thing you can do to protect yourself legally is keep to the rules and keep excellent records. But that should work.

To check what the rules are: look above, top right, Money & Legal.
To define "excellent" in excellent records: keep every receipt, every bank statement, every credit card statement and every remittance advice or pay slip in one place. Keep a note of every payment made and what it was for. And, yes, keep your mother's income in a separate account from your own, which will make it much easier to demonstrate where it's going.

The other point I'd like to make is about the whole hideous experience of feeling accused. This will sound outlandish, but: try not to.

Church lady is fond of your mother, in an auld lang syne sort of way, and is delighted to agree to your very reasonable request for very short-term assistance, yes? Is that how it went? And she has nothing against you that you know of, no reason to want to give you a hard time?

So, up she turns, off you go, she sits with your mother for this single afternoon; and then the next thing you hear is that she has been on to APS "accusing" you of elder abuse, financial and welfare.

Is it correct that she said nothing to you when you got back and she handed your mother over that day? Did she look at you funny, or say anything untoward?

Supposing you were Church lady, and you knew your mother only as the person she was when she was teaching you. Truthful, intelligent and clear-thinking, someone whose judgement you believed you could rely on without question. Fast forward to the fateful mother-sitting afternoon. This highly respected lady suddenly begins to say all sorts of disturbing things. She doesn't know what's happened to all her pension and her savings or her social security. Her daughter is away that day, she's always away, she never knows when she'll be around. She's always busy, out and about, never has time to spend with her mother. That kind of thing, only in technicolor.

So you go away with a little voice worrying away in your head, and you sleep on it, and next morning you decide that it is your duty as a citizen to report what you have been told. So you do. And APS do what they're supposed to do, and follow it up, and are not at all surprised to find that there is no cause for concern in the case of neglect, and are quite happy to leave the police to deal in their own sweet time with the question of financial abuse - not least because APS are pretty confident there's nothing in that either, so there's no harm being done and nobody needs to get their skates on.

What none of these people has taken into account, of course, is what impact these questions asked and concerns raised and investigations carried out will have on you. They *should* consider that; but instead what they do is focus on the alleged victim. As far as they're concerned, it is more important to check that no harm is coming to your mother than it is to spare you hurt and anxiety.

Well, you'd agree with that, wouldn't you, at least in principle? It is more important for APS to establish that a vulnerable person is safe than to worry about embarrassing or upsetting the person who might - MIGHT - be responsible for abuse. It would be nice if they could give as much thought to publishing that they have found no cause for concern and giving the person they've just investigated a gold star, but that's not what they're paid for.

It is a mistake to feel that people asking questions is a slur on your character. It is natural to feel that, but it is still a mistake. If you stand your feelings on their head and look on this as an opportunity to demonstrate formally a) that you take excellent care of your mother and b) that your mother's confusion has reached the point where her account of events cannot be relied on, you will actually come out of it with your reputation enhanced - because APS have now been to see what goes on and are satisfied that all is well - and additional protections for your mother - because due warning has been given that anyone assisting her has to take her mental state into account. This is A Good Thing, it will stop well-meaning idiots causing a heap of trouble by swallowing your mother's 2+2=116 story whole.

You say you feel that you have no witnesses and nobody to vouch for your integrity. Well, now you have. You have been weighed in the balance and found to be the full measure.

Have you spoken since to Church lady, by the way? You may not feel like it, and if harsh words were ever exchanged then it might be best just to steer clear of her anyway; but at least think on this for your own peace of mind. However naïvely and clumsily she went about it, what she no doubt intended was to see that your mother was okay. You don't have to like her for believing it possible that you could be being abusive to your own mother, but don't hate her for trying to be a good neighbour either.
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Social Security advises representative payees: Keep all your money separate.
Keep good records, because you will be required to report to them. To console you, SS knows that if you have that income, it pays rent/food/utilities, and not much more. They expect that you give the person a small personal allowance monthly, account for that too.
We have all heard, the best defense is a good offence. Be on the look-out for identiy theft from this woman, who went through your home! Whatever her intent or plans, she could make you look guilty if she herself has or will steal from you. To protect yourself, obtain and monitor your's and your Mom's credit reports. If you have any suspicions, obtain a background check on her. Keep looking out for at the very least a year on the credit reports.
Sorry to hear this happened to you! And from a "church lady"! All too common in my experience. Share briefly with the pastor of the false accusations. She could ruin your reputation. Do not seek or attend counseling or reconciliation with the pastor and her, let the consequences lie where they will. Has this helped you? Do not be afraid, just take care of business. Doubt very much if the police will even bother to come out, based upon the social worker's report. Get a copy.
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Jessie, good insight - I'm guessing that's also what happened. The "sitter" didn't have enough experience with dementia to recognize the actual situation and just reacted.

Jude, good advice for the thorough monitoring as well as care. You're very well prepared.

Guess we really do need to treat caregiving as jobs, albeit primarily unpaid ones.
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Really good posts here. I keep a rigorous log of all spends and I keep some of my money separate - I pool for some things but in fairness I dont contribute a great deal as I dont get a great deal and although mum gets a carer's allowance I never see a penny of it - she keeps it all.

In addition I also keep a log of my care and note any issues, especially any bruises where she may have knocked herself - she has fallen today so that is noted and I expect to see bruising as a result. I note any skin tears and monitor urine poop and sleep too
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What I imagined could have happened is that your mother talked to her during the care session. She may have told her that she was broke and that you were spending all her money. This happens sometimes when people have dementia. They invent stories. Often they think these stories are true when they tell them. They can sound quite convincing. I wouldn't be surprised if this is what happened.

If someone investigates, it would be up to them to show that money had been misused. It would be embarrassing, I know, but probably nothing would come of it on the legal side. I wouldn't continue to merge your money, however. I would have separate accounts, with the different expenses coming from either her or your account. It keeps everything much easier to figure out.
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Thanks for sharing more information on the situation. It's a good reminder that not everyone who might have been considered to be helpful still is, and even more so that not everyone knows how challenging caregiving is and/or what's reasonable.

Sorry that you had to deal with this situation from someone you thought could have been helpful.

Given the nature of her relationship, I'm wondering now how she made the determination that financial abuse was happening. What records did she pry through in your absence?

I don't want to cause you any further anxiety, but just thinking ahead....I'm wondering if this woman told anyone else in the church about her false conclusions. Everyone would handle this differently, but myself, I might consider sending her a certified letter advising that the nonfinancial abuse allegations have been reviewed and found to be groundless, adding that her behavior was inexcusable and possibly grounds for a defamation action.

I doubt that any attorney would actually pursue a defamation action unless her accusations were more widespread, but she may not know that. but there are the as yet unresolved financial issues.

And even a stern letter from an attorney might have her shaking in her boots and wondering why she made such accusations in the first place.

When I was promoted to what apparently was an enviable position for other women in the law firm for which I worked, I learned that one particular secretary was telling others that I was incompetent and couldn't handle the work. After thinking about it, I cornered her one day and confronted her. She backpedaled so quickly, squirming and denying, that I was pretty sure she wouldn't pull a stunt like that again. I never heard that she did say anything further.

It's up to each individual, however, on the method of handling slander and defamation, however nominal.
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Thank you so much for responding. Asking this person was perhaps a bad choice, in that with hindsight, I didn't even think critically about whom i was asking for this service. My mom used to teach classes in a local community center church, very beloved figure, and this lady was one of moms former students. She happened to have come by for a visit two weeks prior and it occurred to me to ask her to cover mom for an afternoon, as I was attempting to work a film festival and was reaching out to a number of people to cover mom during screening week. I thought I was being resourceful and smart by asking her, especially because she had mentioned to me that she and her sister were taking care of her mom. Bottom line about our
relationship is that prior to the visit she made before her coverage day we literally hadn't heard from her years. So I thought of her as someone sufficiently intimate and caring of my mother to spend an afternoon. And to a large extent, the neglect portion of the situation seems to be "handled". It's the financial abuse accusation that has not yet been addressed by authorities. No one has contacted me in any way on that.
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Addressing only your posted question rather than additional issues in your post, what is the nature of the relationship of the person who made the accusations? Was this a hired caregiver, a relative? It could make a big difference in how you handle the situation.
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