How can I get my mother, who has dementia, understand she must control her spending habits?

Gladlenise asked...

My mom was diagnosed with dementia by a neurologist about a year ago; it's not advanced and she lives alone. I spend several hours each day with her by leaving work early, and that way, I've been able to monitor and assist her with daily needs. I had taken over her monthly bills for her ... she's on fixed income and we do not have much in the way of financial resources. Yesterday, Mom just went down and withdrew about half of the funds for upcoming April bills and went on a spending spree yesterday: I don't know what to do. I've been having that problem with her and trying hard to talk to her about it. I cannot afford to keep covering her on the monthly shortfalls. I don't know what to do. The shut-off notices will be coming, but I'm not going to be able to afford them. Mom does not understand that with only $600, she cannot go on spending sprees and still have enough to cover her monthly expenses. She can still cook for herself and bathe and dress herself, and she does not get lost. But she does get terribly confused and combative at times. Do you have any suggestions on the financial problem I have with her? PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN .... I am open for any ideas. Thanks.

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

If possible get your mother to have her name taken off all of her accounts and put in your name or another trusted person.  Even though she is in the earlier stage of the disease she is not capable of making sound decisions.  Speak with her physician and relate the concerns you have about her decision making as well as explaining in detail about her combative behavior.  I am concerned that she is still living alone yet not making good decisions that could effect her safety.  You also might become involved in a support group where caregivers might be helpful to you.