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My mom is suffering some cognitive decline, although not enough to get her doctor excited about apparently. I pay all her bills since she can't be relied on to remember them all, although she manages to handle the few odd ones I can't access, like pest control and her yard service.



She has fallen for a few phishing scams and has had to cancel her credit card but now her confusion and paranoia about it are so bad she canceled and threw away a brand new card because she couldn't tell the fraud charges had stopped.



She has agreed to use a credit card that I manage completely, so I'm looking for a card she can use to place grocery and amazon orders. Should I look for a reloadable prepaid card? Or some other kind I haven't thought of? Thanks in advance.

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Thanks Beatty for following up. Yes I pay all the bills and have for over a year. My POA isn't technically activated but she's given me the couple of passwords I needed to fully take over everything. She does still write checks for her housekeeper, garden service, she seems to do fine with these.

The prepaid card I got her over the summer is working great. She uses it for random online shopping at a regular number of legitimate businesses, at the pharmacy, etc. I set up her grocery ordering account with a reloading gift card so she never has to type in anything when ordering, and same with the ride service she uses.

I aggressively monitor her email: delete and unsubscribe from things that confuse her, mark all spam and have about 25 spam filters in place. She gets very few scams now, since she doesn't see them to respond.

She's a frustrating case in that she falls for scams, cannot for the life of her figure out how to return items she doesn't like, can't figure out how to fill out the fraud paperwork for the last time she got scammed, etc. But on the other hand she does fine ordering the groceries, making and getting to doctor's appointments, that kind of thing. I suspect some of it is attention getting behavior for my benefit, and some of it is very real cognitive decline. It's pretty tough to separate in a person who has lied and manipulated their whole life, so I don't try. I just do what I can over the computer to keep things running.

The brown stuff will hit the fan in another medical emergency sooner or later, and once again there will be decisions to be made.
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Reply to Slartibartfast
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If repaying credit is beyond Mom's cognitive ability, then cards with credit limits have to go imo.

It sounds like you are not ready to take over all the finances completely just yet... want to preserve Mom's choice & independence where you can. I get that. So limiting damage could a good aim instead.

My plan would be;

You take the 'business' money, bills, utilities, groceries etc.

Mom gets 'fun' money. A prepaid card with a small balance (no credit limit).

Taxis (where I live) can set up an account to be paid per month. While Doctor & Vets probably want their account paid on the day, they may be willing to set up an account for you or agree to you paying via telephone.
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The phishing she's fallen for has always been by email. I now have full access to her email and have set up numerous spam filters and have nearly eliminated the phishing emails. Luckily she won't answer her phone and her answering machine has been full for years, so no worries there. Also won't answer the door so no worries about door to door salesmen or scammers.

She needs a credit card because she needs to be able to order pet food, pay for vet visits, buy birthday gifts for her sister, etc. She also needs to be able to take a cab to the doctor and pay her copays. She can handle these tasks well and deserves to be able to do them.
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Tothill Sep 29, 2022
There are work arounds for the things you have mentioned.

Set up an account with the cab company. They will invoice you or charge to her stored CC.

Vet visits are rare, I have 6 pets and only 3 vet visits per year, and they can call you for her card number.

You can set up a subscription service for the pet food. Through the vet, a pet store, Amazon etc.

Take her shopping for the birthday gifts, make a morning of it and have lunch while you are out.

She can handle them until she cannot and generally we find out they cannot when there is a significant issue.

Yes, get her a refillable card with a small balance, but prepare for the day when you have to do the above.
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I had to use my mom's CC to order some flowers for someone last week. I couldn't get the order to go through--probably b/c I was using my phone and mother wouldn't stop talking long enough for the automatic voice recognition feature to figure out what was 'necessary' for the order and what wasn't.

So I kept getting a 'this card cannot be validated at this time" message. Mother got more and more upset. She said "I have over $20, 000 on this card! I can order $70 worth of flowers."

I came home and in 15 minutes had made the order. Then I got to thinking--she has a wallet full of cards. I would not be surprised to find that she has a potential debt limit of $100K. Her income is very small, and she has had problems before with paying on time and/or arguing over things she wants to return, but she doesn't want to pay any shipping & handling fees. She does shop a LOT over the phone, and I am a little worried that she might get in some trouble. She also uses a CC to make donations to EVERY SINGLE CHARITY that sends her something.

I am going to call my YB who is her Fpoa and run this by him. He has cancelled cards in the past, and now that her memory is getting so bad---I think I have cause for a little alarm. She's been buying stuff she'll never use--just for the sake of getting packages in the mail.
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Slartibartfast Jul 25, 2022
I hesitate to recommend it because I haven't obviously used it yet but the card I ordered for her has extensive filters "parental controls". One of the many categories you can block charges to is charities, I guess it's pretty common.
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When online shopping first got big, my dad went to our credit union and applied for a new credit card that he intended to be specifically used for online shopping only. He requested a very low limit even tho he qualified for much higher. His idea was that neither he nor a fraudster would be able to run up thousands in online purchases because the limit was only four hundred or so. It worked and he was able to make the online purchases he needed. He also had to request that there be no automatic credit limit increases.
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Reply to Mysteryshopper
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I buy $100 Visa gift cards for my Mother's aides to use to shop with for food etc. and have them leave the receipts.. Works out great. I buy a new one every week or two. You can get them in any denomination...might be the answer for your Mother..still gives her a card but limits any loss.
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I don't agree with giving your Mom any credit card at all.

For Amazon, the credit card is stored with the Amazon account, although you do have to give them the 3 digit security number. A better way to do the Amazon would be to have her make all her purchases through the Amazon gift card that is stored on her Amazon account. You can replenish that gift card amount at any time.

For placing grocery orders, same thing. See if she can use in-store credit or just give her $40-50 cash if she actually goes to the store.

For my Mom, I still get her bills via mail, email or I pay with my own check then have her electronically reimburse me. She had cash to pay the housekeeper, however, the problem became that she paid the housekeeper twice or too much or too little or she would forget where the cash was and blame the caregivers for stealing her cash. So I made envelopes that she could hand out. Then she forgot where she put the envelopes which led to me being there part of the time that the housekeeper was there (thankfully I knew the housekeeper well so she was honest about the cash.)

Use her paranoia to her advantage. She is telling you that she doesn't want or need a credit card, so don't give her one. If she was a victim for phishing, they can do it again. They have her phone number or whatever they used to get hold of her.

Speaking of phishing, we drummed it into my Mom to say that she could never commit to any money without consulting her son. It really saved her many times, including the time they took her without her consent in ambulance to the hospital because she had fallen in a crosswalk while crossing the street. She was lucid and rational, however, they wanted to take her to the hospital anyway because she was elderly.
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Debbi2019 Jul 25, 2022
I am curious, about why it was a negative thing to take a fallen elderly person to the hospital, even though she was lucid and rational? Those helping her don't know her medical history, plus in the elderly it is quite possible that the hip bone snaps or fractures which causes them to fall, and it is not immediately evident. As a precaution, they are usually taken to ER to check everything out.
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Finally settled on True Link. Has great reviews and tons of settings you can personalize. Did not have to put in anyone's social security number as it's not a true credit card. Once it comes in the mail and we get to test it out I can update if anyone wants info.
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Kimfam Sep 29, 2022
I have used TrueLink as well. The recipient does need to input their SSN to activate the card. I assume so that the gov't can track money being put onto it for tax reasons. I like that I get alerts for all money spent, can set up auto reload, and can limit spending categories/cash withdrawals. I did a lot of research on debit cards and landed on this, and so far so good.
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I would do the reloadable prepaid, understanding that she will most likely lose it. don't put much on it as you can always add as needed.

My step-mother lost 4 cards, that ended that, now, we order what she needs.
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Reply to MeDolly
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Slartibartfast Jul 18, 2022
Oh boy, good point about that. Luckily she really doesn't leave the house. Thanks!
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