He accuses me of stealing his money but it’s his dementia obsessing over it!
“You stole my money!”
A live-in family caregiver friend of mine provided me with a great tip to handle this accusation.
Part of her daily routine with her care receiver is to count the cash he has in the house. They write it down on a post-it note, comparing it to yesterday’s post-it note. It takes less than 10 minutes and does it over morning coffee.
In addition to calming the person’s woes about stolen money, it protects both of them from the family being concerned about theft or mishandling of funds.
The hardest thing about all this is maybe if you hear this throughout the day. It means the person you are caring for lives in the moment. Please remember that when you respond. Detract them from the thought with another activity or topic to talk about. If they are agitated and really “stuck” bring out the cash and post-it-note. Count is again if you must.
The idea is not to make them stop (you can’t stop it) but get them through the moment with as little agitation as possible.
One of our members (CLICK HERE) reached out today asking about how to deal with her loved one’s money spending and accusations that she is not honest with him about money. The answer lies in whether the loved one has dementia or is fully capable of taking care of his own finances. Unless a record is kept of the spending, it is hard to tell where all the money went. Many a marriage has failed because the spending was not recorded. I remember my own husband tired of me telling him we couldn’t live on what we were making. He said, “I don’t believe you. Give me all the bills and I will start paying them every month. We have plenty of money.” I did exactly that. After the first month, he got terribly depressed so I had to take back the job of paying the bills. Oh well…he never brought the subject up again.
Don’t use reason to explain what’s true and what isn’t.
Don’t show proof they are wrong. Their illness is skewing their reality and you need to accept this. At the same time, your loved one needs to feel they still have control over their finances.
– Validate that they are upset, and you are sorry they cannot use the card, or can’t find their cash. “Oh, you can’t use the credit card/can’t find your wallet?”
– Show empathy whatever their complaint is; that you understand they are upset and why they feel that way. “I can understand how upsetting it is to not be able to use your credit card/lose money.”
– Offer to help them. “I will call the credit card company when they open tomorrow, or after lunch.” “Let’s look for your money.”
– That the two of you can go to the bank tomorrow, when the bank is open, and get things straightened out.
– Keep some old bank statements on hand and give them to your loved one to review if they are concerned about having money in their account.
– You may want to keep a small stash of cash in a lockbox and bring it out during these instances and let them count the money. Keep a note in the box and date it each time the money is counted and have them initial.
– Give them an old checkbook so they can keep “track” of their account.
– Let them write checks from closed accounts to “pay” for bills.
– Keep copies of frequently “lost” items (like wallets) so you can always “find” them.
Your goal is to help keep them free of anxiety and feeling in control of their finances.
Family members who steal
Sadly, this is all too common as well. Some members tell us their siblings accuse them of stealing when they can hardly get by. No matter how much we bring transparency to the situation, laying out all the bills and accounts, some siblings will continue to accuse.
On the other hand, there is more than money to steal. Family members have been known to take all the valuables out of the home. Nothing is surprising anymore.
Family members who care for their loved ones would do well to make a list of all valuables (with pictures) and accounts and send it off to their siblings and other family members. Ask them what they would like after your loved one is gone. Have them number them 1-?, with 1 being the most important to them. Too many times, the siblings get to the home and it is stripped bare by another family member.
Attorney fees and court cases are expensive but some families will take this to court. I had one attorney tell me she decides her fee after asking the client how much the estate is worth. I’ve seen this same attorney rack up over $100,000 in legal fees just by sending off letters to the other siblings. Needless to say, nothing is left. Be aware of what there is and how you want to make this the best transition possible. Keep meticulous records.
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Hi I'm Suzanne
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