I have had POA for 18 months and handled my parents banking. In the last few months mom has been obsessed with money. There's no sitting down and explaining it to her, it's way over her head. In retrospect it's not just money. She has become argumentative about everything. It's this our new norm?
The name of the game with dementia is Keep Them Calm At All Costs. Divert their attention off the topic they're obsessing about, use therapeutic fibs to keep them calm when necessary, and have snacks on hand to keep them distracted.
I suggest you read this 33 page booklet which has the best information ever about managing dementia and what to expect with an elder who's been diagnosed with it.
Understanding the Dementia Experience, by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller
Jennifer is a nurse who worked for many years as an educator and counsellor for people with dementia and their families, as well as others in caring roles. She addresses the emotional and grief issues in the contexts in which they arise for families living with dementia. The reviews for her books are phenomenal b/c they are written in plain English & very easy to read/understand. Her writings have been VERY helpful for me.
Here is a list of useful tips from her e-book I found to be excellent:
· Do not reason and argue
· Do not demand that they reason or problem-solve
· Do not demand that they remember
· Do not demand that they get their facts straight
· Do not correct their ideas or scold them
· Do not reorient them
· Do not think that they are being uncooperative on purpose
· Do not think that they really do remember, but are pretending not to
· Do not use a “bossy” dictatorial attitude in care
· Do not act with impatience
· Enter into their frame of reality, or their 'world'
· Be aware of their mood or state of mind
· Use few words and simple phrases
· OR use no words, just friendly gestures and simple motions
· Do everything slowly
· Approach from the front
· Wait for a slow response
· Constantly reassure them that everything is 'OK'
· Keep people with dementia comfortable 'in the moment' - every moment
· Maximize use of remaining abilities
· Limit TV or radio programs which they may feel are frighteningly real
· Maintain privacy
· Provide a safe physical environment
Best of luck.
There are certainly similar changes in the brain chemistry although the personality still comes through as everyone is an individual.
Do you know if she's been diagnosed? Without any information about your mom's condition, it is difficult to respond in ways that might support you. DO get everything legally needed set up if not already done.
This is important for you to be able to understand 'how' to communicate with her.
* Yes, people with dementia (or w/o it) will be argumentative. They are fearful. They are not functioning as they know (if they remember). They are loosing / have lost independence and this continues, along with their fears.
* They repeat themselves.
* They will not 'get it' when you explain - you need to STOP explaining as you have been and keep it VERY VERY simple - as below although adjust accordingly to be as truthful as possible while easing her fears:
"You have enough money to live on . . . " (or rephrase as needed).
"You are safe in your home and don't need to worry"
Shift to the present:
How are you feeling now? (She may not be able to answer this).
The key is to keep her in present time as much as possible.
Do not explain / redirect. [If you do not redirect or ease her anxiety somehow (ie. a foot massage, hold her hand, offer to go out for a walk), you will be in a never-ending loop of her repeating herself/ her fears / her anxiety - the only way she knows how.
"Yes, I understand you are concerned about XXX." I am taking care of everything / you. What would you like for dinner ... are you cold, do you want a sweater on? ... (somehow re-direct).
Gena / Touch Matters
Then, eventually, her dementia advanced to where she wasn’t concerned about money any longer. Now, her obsession revolves around getting meals, which she is convinced that she doesn’t get (not true!)
You’re in good company, here.
I can say if it isn't finances, then it is her car (she hasn't driven in over 6 years and we sold her car 4 years ago). It seems she fixates on something for a time and then it changes. I have learned to just tell her what will keep her happy and then change the subject.
I took over the bulk of my dad’s finances last July when I found a bunch of unpaid bills and very overdue property tax bills on his rental properties. I do it all behind the scenes without him knowing as POA. He will NEVER willingly give up control of it. I had no choice but to be covert as when I would offer to help he would yell at me to stay out of it. To protect him I have to lie to him. It sucks, but this is ALZ. I started by putting a few on auto pay and then every month I would add another. Out of sight, out of mind. So far it’s working and I hope it stays that way for all our sakes. There are just a few left that his office manager writes the checks for and has him sign them, and I oversee all the accounts, business and personal.
Now I am starting the process of getting his business appraised (yes he still owns a business that his staff that has been with him for 35 years
is running, but he thinks he is running it) so I can list it for sale this year along with the commercial space he owns. As well as selling off a cabin he has has that he never goes to anymore. He will need this money for his care as I fear MC is about 8-12 months away. I’m thankful he has all of this so I will be able to place him a nice facility, but I have to make sure it’s there when he needs it and managing it all takes over my life many days.
It’s a lot. It’s like having a toddler in the terrible twos….but that toddler has money.
When I was POA and Trustee of Trust, having taken this on at my brother's request when he was diagnosed with probable early Lewy's Dementia, I had to keep track of every single penny into and every single penny out of his accounts in ANY case, so I made copies for him which he kept in a looseleaf notebook. He had been a meticulous organizer all his life and now had control over nothing. This makes our elders quite anxious and depressed. Not that he every really read anything, but my bro did know that he would get his monthly accounting, that he would every six months have an accounting of ALL ASSETS and ALL EXPENSES, and it was a great comfort to him that it was there, that he could see he had "enough". That he could see I was managing things as meticulously as he would.
As I said. You are POA. You have to do this ANYWAY. So why not supply her with a copy. (PS: don't include banks other than by code name nor account numbers or other identifying things.
Best of luck.
We understand that this all falls under a sort of paranoid thinking, but this happens to many many seniors, and your being upfront and organized will/can prevent a whole lot of anxiety.
She is totally obsessed with her funeral arrangements. She calls the funeral home frequently to make sure all arrangements have been made to her wishes.
She is insistent that she takes care of filing her income tax herself. Her accountant encouraged her to continue to use his office and do it herself.
I take care of everything. In her mind my nephew takes care of her finances. She trusts him not me.
I could go on and on, I am sure I am not alone in my frustration. Lots of us are that person, the one who does everything but can’t be trusted to do anything.
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