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The financial vulnerability of this disease
My father had always been excellent with facts, figures and money. Yet as this disease took over, he was taken advantage of by his girlfriend of 20 years. Until I fully took over his finances, I had no idea the extent of the FRAUD.
Every once and while, it's important to be reminded how incredibly vulnerable our LOs become. Financial fraud is at the top of the list. So to every new caregiver, please learn from those of us who learned the hard way!
Below is a passage from my book, written in the early stages of Dad's disease. At this time, he had been hospitalized for flu and dehydration. He was still living alone and had not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia, although I knew something was going wrong.
Remind yourself, any money that your LO does have, is vital for their ongoing care. It's imperative that we become diligent advocates to protect them.
During Dad’s hospitalization, I was making numerous trips from his house to his hospital room for bills that needed to be paid, as well as collection of his tax information that I needed to get to his accountant, when I saw a hand written IOU on his kitchen table. It was from his girlfriend, and the amount of the loan was $5,000. While I felt some guilt, I took the IOU, copied it, and returned the original to Dad’s kitchen table. In my mind, copying this worthless piece of paper wasn’t about interfering in his life or his decisions. It was about my need to protect my father. Unfortunately, in the years to come, I would learn the full extent of financial fraud this woman perpetrated against my dad.
I'm not saying everyone should do this, and of course, I'm not advocating anything illegal, but i have done this with parents on both sides and it has worked out fine. None of our parents wanted us in their finances - but waiting for the parent to say "i'm ready now"... most of us know, thats not going to happen. Or if you're still wondering, I'm here to tell you, it's not going to happen (or unlikely, we were 0/4).
There is a difference between "taking over" and "knowing what's going on". We did have to take over for my in laws (with dementia) but my mom and her boyfriend (no dementia, but 80s and 90s) are still "independent" (they write their own checks, pay their bills, bank) but I do keep an eye on their accounts online and have had to intervene a few times when things were double paid, etc. They like being independent and I'm ok with a few mistakes as long as I know that something like what His Daughter describes isn't happening.
When we moved my mom's 96yo boyfriend into AL, I took advantage of his hospitalization to go through his files and scan statements for every deposit and retirement account, credit card info, car title, his birth certificate, medicare card, ss card, military records, contents of his wallet, insurance information.
For all of those who say, "but she won't let me or he isn't ready yet", get them out of the house for lunch with a friend or your spouse. Use your key to let yourself into the house, and use your phone to scan scan scan (one copy of the most recent statements, for instance) Now you know how much money they have coming in (deposit accounts) and how much they are spending and where it is going. The status of their retirement accounts, which will help you plan for the future. Their debts.
If you are listed as POA, you have the right to know what you're getting in to. The "trigger" for financial POA is not as clear cut as most of us think, and it's often when someone has been taken advantage of or a big mistake has been made.
His daughter, who is his financial power of attorney, was so grateful when I was able to send over his entire financial picture, along with all relevant docs. She is still letting him write checks and we have not alerted the banks etc, because my mom still helps him and we know his financial picture is healthy and strong. No arguments and he is happy he is still "in control" getting statements and writing checks.
Of course, you need to have good relationships with the people in question to do this, too. My family - and in the case of my mom's boyfriend, his family - knows I've done this and were like "oh good, we feel better knowing his financial situation." The intention wasn't really to get control of his finances but more to provide us with assurance that there weren't expenditures or obligations we didn't know about, that there was enough coming in to cover his current living situation, more information about his health insurance, etc. He has been declared not competent by three doctors but it still actively engaged in monitoring his accounts, which is fine.
My general outlook is - if you want me to help you, I'm going to you need to give a little. If he or does had found out I did it, "I just wanted to make sure everything was ok and you were covered." What's he going to do? Get mad at me? Oh well. I found you a place to live, bought your furniture, set it up, moved you, managed your care, found you a dentist, replaced your teeth, established contact with your daughter - and you're mad because I checked into your financial picture so you could stay independent for longer? I'm ok with that.
Citydock, I totally agree with your perspective. It's difficult to explain to anyone who hasn't been through this just how emotionally difficult it is to take over someone's finances, or feel that you're "snooping" through their personal affairs. I was named as my dad's DPOA in 2008. Yet he was still living alone and managing. His diagnosis didn't happen till 2012. I wanted to let him handle anything he could to allow him to fell adult, whole and competent. But after the fact, I wish I'd been monitoring his accounts long before I took over with my DPOA.
What we all need to remember, is that we are doing this FOR our LO, not TO our LO.
Keeping a watchful eye, is the only way to make sure they aren't being taken advantage of. And there are so many ways they can be taken advantage of financially.
Both of you are so right!! One day I witnessed a conversation between my Dad and older brother looking out the back window at a tree that needed a little help as my mother exclaimed that they can't hire anyone to do it because there's only $317.00 in the checking account (which of course was WAY off). That's a little too late, however-- my father did keep watch over her and after he passed my younger brother was POA and had said things were not too bad. A few overpaid store credit cards and she had given away to any charity that asked for a donation through the mail. My mother thought they were bills, but thankfully not enough to hurt their financial outlook on taking care of Mom. Which we did. My older brother had (or still has) a touch of PTSD as he was accused of just coming in there and taking the checkbook. Stock answer, "It's OK Mom-(insert other brothers name) has your checkbook and everything is fine. You can ask him for it back when you see him." I'd be rich if I had a $1. for every time I recited those words, it's ok!
Present day, my MIL (person with dementia) lives alone, her spouse recently passed so she is down to 1 income, family has applied to 1 facility for care, (she should qualify for Medicaid soon). Meanwhile part time caregiver was suspended due to non payment, and I'm just too exhausted to call out the POAs of the family and stress that HER CARE should be the #1 priority NOW, not paying debts. Their car has been in the garage for over a year, it has been suggested multiple times to sell it and use the money for care. There are multiple collectible items that could be sold, for care. One POA couldn't close a bank account because other POA never provided the bank or other POA with a copy of the death certificate. Anyway, you get the picture---you should try to get along with other family, but on this side of the family I really don't care to. I just want my MIL to be safe. She's lonely and scared, she would benefit greatly from a routine of a home, and activities, and we of course will still be helping her. Apparently no one else see's it this way, things are moving way too slow for me, and I have to let go a little on the worries.
I have been very "lucky" in the financial respect in caring for my in laws (84yo mil has alzheimers and 86yo fil total well). We have always had a great relationship. I love my mother in law more than I loved my own mom.Fortunately, she was happy to give up the finances to me as she knew that I am very interested in finances.
But I have seen other adult children who just can't seem to "wrap their minds" around the fact that their parents need supervision/help/intervention. I get that they "say" everything is fine or that they "want" you to stay out of their business BUT a 2 yo also wants to eat ice cream for dinner! We must do what is right for our loved ones not what they "want"!
I have been talking with a good friend of my whose father in law was in a very bad way...should not have been living alone, not taking care of himself,etc. But no one "felt" like they coud do anything even the relative (the older son) who is POA. Well, fast forward to now, after hospitalization, rehab, move to my friends house and SURPRISE Money is missing!! I was saying....why did someone not start making online accounts (the elderly father would not be doing this, very sure he does not use a computer, so adult children could that way monitor the finances without the elderly relative know anything about it)? This would have allowed them (adult children) to at least watch and be alerted to when funny stuff started. But I think a lot of this is denial....Both adult children are out of state so it is easier to say...he must be ok. In my friend's defense (I don't think this is really a defense....maybe a mitigating circumstance) the elder in question is very difficult....but then, using my 2 yo analogy some children are not pleasant either. So now they are all scrambling trying to get things taken care of that should have been done years ago....some stuff DECADES ago!
Anyway, I think this subject is very important but so many feelings, guilt, and who is in charge makes it a land mine situation. I just don't think sticking your head in the sand ever makes things better.
just my .02 cents.
If I could ask a question on what financial help is available, along with the 401K's, savings, etc. to help pay for AL/MC for my DW. She is in stage 5 and of course headed for stage 6. Contacted a "place for mom", which has supplied a number placement options in the area.
We do have long term health policy. DW is a veteran, and I am retired USAF with tricare. I'm hoping some of you would share the different financial help that have been used. If need be, I guess I could a new start thread, but this one appears to address some of the problems we all have had or may face as we go down the path we wished we didn't have to.
I read this Forum most every day, and found it to be a great life line to make it day by day.
Thanks to all of you!
There is also the Azlheimers Association, either the national hotline or local office. Brokers like A Place for Mom get money from the facility when they successfully place someone, so you aren't getting the full scope of options because not all facilities contract with them. Many good places don't need to pay an outfit like, they have plenty of business on their own, so they would not be on your radar. Many offices for the Alz Assoc have a social worker who will sit down with you and go over options in your area. They will have a list of memory care facilities. A local support group is a good place to get feedback and gossip on facilities. Ask around, dementia touches so many lives. Church, clubs, the barber shops, wherever. There are many threads here on things to ask when touring and what to look for if you need guidance on vetting them. Good luck!
There is a story in the news and social media in my area about an 81 yo who was conned out of about $40,000!! The police are actively looking for the piece of **** as they have a good picture of him on the elderly woman's door bell camera. He told the woman (don't know if she has any kinda dementia but at 81 it would seem to make sense that there might be some issues...) that her grandson was in a car wreck and needed the cash for bail money. She went to the local bank and withdrew the cash. Well, seems he came back a couple of times each time telling her that her grandson needed more money for x or y due to the accident. One has to wonder about her thought process as she never call any of the family members who were involved in this "accident" or the bank who did not think to question repeated, large cash withdrawals by a single elderly woman.
Don't know how these people can sleep while doing this!!
The con artists & scammers sleep just fine at night with their ill-gotten gains because they have no conciounce. Those who prey on the elderly & mentally deficient should face heightened fines and incarceration. Perhaps only a fine line separates these low-lifes from the so called "charities" and political lobbying organizations that use mild fear & intimidation to solicit contributions. But even legitimate charities step up their mailings to every contributor, and sell their names to other charities. The AARP claims to be working on curbing all of this.
This is a separate issue from having difficulty paying bills timely or other problems handling routine household finances, but both can be discovered by monitoring bank accounts. There is probably no better advice we can give the newcomers who arrive here suspecting their LO's may be in the early stages of dementia.
The Alz Assn. warns that difficulty with routine finances is often one of the first symptoms. From my own experience (both mom & spouse), it can snowball quickly and large amounts can be squandered in short order.
By the time most of us join here at the forums, this advice may come too late. Is it too late for you?
My 80yo mom - no dementia, pretty sharp - was scammed with the grandson scam over the phone. These guys are pros - they know exactly how to work it with a combination of fear and anxiety and manipulation to get the target to ignore their doubts. She figured out she had been had pretty quickly and was so upset about it. It was heartbreaking - and it really impacted my mom's confidence and self esteem.
I was like "mom these are professionals - it is their job to study and practice taking advantage of people. You are hardly the only one."