Oh the things she would do when dementia first started in on her. Some of them were funny as heck and others were scary and downright dangerous. I have a friend whose mother had Alzheimer’s too and her mom would put things like the dishes in the freezer. My mother never did that but she developed other weird quirks.
I’ve mentioned the calling me to look up a phone number for her but she had others. She was afraid of direct deposit of their retirement checks into the bank and HAD to take the check straight from their mailbox to the bank and then take out a wad of money to keep in the house and on her for whatever reason she had.
I begged her to do direct deposit for their safety sake but she never did it. She would lay in wait for the mailman when it was time for the checks to arrive, would grab the mail, and then make poor daddy drive them to the bank, do business there and then back home. Only to go right back out again to pay their utility bills – with cash – at the grocery store as soon as those bills arrived.
It was like something in her head was telling her that if she didn’t pay the light bill on the day it arrived they’d cut off their power. But that money thing was terrible! She always hid some money in the house; like with some old TV programs where they kept the money in the mattress, she would hide it wrapped in foil in the flour canister or even wrapped in foil again (what was it with her and foil?) and buried in the crisper under the veggies. Part of that was because she was a child of the great depression but that was compounded by her increasing dementia.
Mom and Dad never had a checking account or a credit card and they paid for everything in cash or money orders. It wasn’t until her dementia had really progressed that I was able to get dad to do direct deposit but that was as far as I could get with them. We never knew how much money mom carried around on her (yes! on her) in that wallet of hers that she either had in a front jeans pocket or tucked in her bra (that used to embarrass the heck out of me and my sister) until she had to be admitted/committed to a psych ward because of something she had done (more about that one later).
It took me and two big burly orderlies to wrangle that wallet away from mom when she was admitted and once I took the myriad of rubber bands she had wrapped around it off, I discovered that she had been walking around with almost $500 dollars on her all in twenties! I nearly freaked out thinking that mom had been walking around with all of that money on her and “what if” someone had tried to hurt her as she was out and about.
Here being put into that psych ward and separated from dad for the first time since he was in the military was heartbreaking for me and Dad and I’m sure in some kind of way Mom was hurt by it all too. It wasn’t a pleasant or beneficial experience and another that I shall delve into later. But it was yet another thing we had to worry about and deal with with my parents until they both entered homes.
Finances are a big sticky thing to deal with when the person is your parent and it can get very complicated when your loved one has dementia regardless of your relation to them. There can be so many variables at work at any given time. They can lose the ability to manage funds and either over spend, fall prey to con artists (and some of those might even be other relatives), or hoard the money in some interesting places. When you try to help they may vacillate between appreciating the help to accusing you of theft all in one breath.
If you can get the legal papers to let you help or fully take over their finances then life will be so much easier but up until that time all you can do is continue to try – exasperating as it may become – to help them as best you can and to watch out for warning signs that something might be wrong. But however you deal with your person and finances try to be kind with them even if you want to scream sometimes because losing the ability to do things that they have done for a very long time is embarrassing, depressing, and scary to them.