Thursday, September 5, 2013

Search for Meaning in Dementia

In between surgeries,  my daughter Rhonda,  and her children, Garrett and Taylor decided to go to Kentucky to visit my brother. The children were so excited because my brother has a in-ground pool, Media Room, and a Pool Table. There are all kinds of video games. You would think we were going to Disney.

We used to go stay with my mother, but she has recently entered Assisted Living. This is so difficult for me to write about because she now has dementia. I think she has had it for a long time, but it just was not quite as evident as it is now. She used to say to me, "I don't remember that; how do you remember so much that happened so long ago?" I never really thought of it as a problem until she almost lost most of her estate to crooks who were selling her websites and charging her each month for upkeep, with no return on investment. There were companies and private people who did these things.

Most of the people were clairvoyants, seers, fortune tellers, etc. They took her money to the tune of over $3 a minute for phone calls. Trust me, if someone tells you they can talk to your dead relatives, see ghosts, read your palm, etc., they are charlatans and provided for your entertainment by dark forces that can destroy you and your family.

Evidently, she could get herself into these messes, but could not figure out how to get out of them. My brother spent months recovering most of her money. Thank God, she used her credit cards to do all this. He was able to reclaim all but about $5K of her money. This is a woman who was considered to be a very smart business woman. She had her interior designing business for about 40 years and always had a wonderful standing in the community.

This tells me that everyone should pay attention to their aging parents. After all, if they worked hard all their life to provide for their retirement, we should not let crooks bilk them out of their future. We could end up paying the price for our indifference. I would say that at the first sign of a problem, you should step in and even get counselling with an estate planner or someone who knows the law. If we had been paying closer attention, we would have noticed things that were unusual, before they got out of hand.

Take care of your parents, as they once took care of you. Even if you thought they didn't take care of you very well, step up to the plate to make sure that crooks are not stalking them like they did my mother. There are people out there who are making hundreds of phone calls each day, just looking for that person who may not be "quite right." They know about your parents mental capacity before you do.

Mother is a very independent person and still wants my brother to bring her computer to her apartment. He doesn't dare. It is bad enough that she orders junk on the TV. That could be one of your first indications that something is going on. You go to your parents home and see "Things Seen on TV" all over the place, some still in the boxes and not even opened. Check with their neighbors and see if UPS or FEDEX trucks are constantly delivering to their house. She only has one credit card now, with limited charging capability. She is not happy about giving up control, but is learning to live with it.

If you find a lot of things are not going well, ask to be put on the list so you can talk to their doctor. If the doctor says it is necessary, consult a lawyer about taking over to keep them out of trouble.

It is not only their future, but yours too. Poor choices on their part because of dementia can also hurt your finances in the future as you struggle to take care of them. Be observant, loving, and concerned. They are your parents, don't let them be hurt by others. Stand up and take a stand!