1. Expert Q&A: Protecting a person with dementia from financial abuse - Weds 26 June, 3:30-4:30 pm

    Financial abuse can have serious consequences for a person with dementia. Find out how to protect a person with dementia from financial abuse.

    Sam, our Knowledge Officer (Legal and Welfare Rights) is our expert on this topic. She will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday 26 June between 3:30 - 4:30 pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

At my wits end...

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Nigel62, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Actually I'm sure if I am at wits end then there are many thousands of you in similar positions so it's a comfort to know I'm not alone!

    Basically. My mum (82) was diagnosed with Mixed Dementia in December 2014. There have been many many failings, she is alone in a bungalow, 100 miles from me with no support. That's a separate issue but I think I am now going to have to start complaint procedures against the local Mental Health Service.

    Main issue infront of me is...I'm her sole attorney for financial affairs which has only recently come through (July). On digging around I have found significant debt....£625 rental arrears £520 Council Tax arrears and £1000 Water Bill arrears including a CCJ. Mum has never been good with money although always paid her rent on time...some of the water bill I fear precedes her dementia. BT recently cut her off...I admit I should have been on top of that one but paid the bill and got her reconnected.

    She has lost all financial capacity (indeed I would say she is in danger or serious self neglect now). She has just one account with £96 in (of last week) and the state pension. One would think that with not paying bills she would have more money but she has none, in fact it has become apparent she is not feeding herself. I fear she gives money away or has just lost any sense of value with it and how to spend it.

    The local council to their credit have been very understanding, I sent them a letter along with a copy of the LPA. I spoke to Citizens Advice and am waiting for them to call back and arrange a meeting. Anglian Water seem less understanding. I've just received an officious email from them saying 'pay by 23 Sept or else' despite me having told them that a) I'm only handling this in an administrative capacity ie I'm not liable for the bill and b) mum has dementia and no means to pay the bill.

    I've simply no idea what to do. I'm struggling on my own with this from 100 miles away. My sister was so angry at the local Care services for sending her back home that she walked away saying she didn't want to see mum or talk to her again (her reasoning being that mums life would collapse to the point where she would have to go into care). I run my own illustration business in publishing but my income has dropped 60% this year trying to keep on top of all this...on top of that my health has suffered and the panic attacks started three weeks ago...I've got CBT booked in for next week.

    I'm sure these problems and symptoms are not unique but I really don't know what to do anymore...she can't survive on the money she has as she has no concept of what to do with it, there's not a cat in hells chance of the bill being paid. There now seems to be doubt as to whether or not her condition was formally diagnosed and recorded and as such she will not be liable for exemption from council tax. I was there the day after she was diagnosed in hospital but no dept seems to have talked to anyone else.

    It's a mess and yes...I'm at my wits end.
     
  2. exhausted 2015

    exhausted 2015 Registered User

    Jul 5, 2015
    624
    Female
    stoke on trent
    Hi I really feel for you it can't be easy trying to sort this out given the distance between you and your own problems sorry I have no answers but could you contact your mum's gp it may be that he has it on record about her diagnosis
    All the best xx
     
  3. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    2,482
    Radcliffe on Trent
    #3 Pickles53, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
    Hi Nigel, and welcome to TP. It all seems overwhelming right now but just try to deal with one thing at a time.

    Doing things at a distance is always harder, but if you have now got POA for finance you can hopefully stop the rot. Get the LPA registered with the bank, and you can then take control of how much money your mum can access. Any debit or credit cards can be stopped and a limit placed on what mum can withdraw. You can manage all the bills by getting online banking set-up and direct debits. Dealing with the arrears - I would just follow CAB's advice and get them to write letter to Anglian Water.

    I have read somewhere on here that sometimes you can get debts cancelled when a person has a diagnosis of dementia, but can't find the thread at the moment. However to be honest I wouldn't see this as the highest priority. Companies and organisations write off bad debts every day ; if this ever went as far as court proceedings (unlikely) they would have to take into account ability to pay. They're not your debts so don't under any circumstances pay them yourself; that is definitely not an attorney's responsibility.

    The other side of the equation is your mum's income. You can ask the DWP to become mum's appointee so you can deal with all pension and benefit issues. She may be entitled to pension credit (if she doesn't get it already).

    She should be getting Attendance Allowance. There is a very long form and I'd recommend you ask either Age UK or AS for someone to help fill it in; they know what information needs to be included. You also need to say she has needed help for at least six months when you apply. It takes a few weeks to come through but will be backdated to date you ring up and request the form.

    Next step, anyone with dementia qualifies for discount on council tax. If she lives alone she won't have to pay anything. Find out the process from her local council. Ask for discount to be backdated to date of diagnosis, some TPers have got several hundred pounds back.

    I know you are thinking SS are useless but it sounds like you need to insist that they reassess your mum's needs and sort out a care package. Make a fuss, tell them your mum is a vulnerable adult, that she is at risk, and that you will hold them responsible if anything happens to her. Put it all in writing and send it recorded delivery.

    I was in a very similar situation (except for the debts) with my mum last year. It did get sorted eventually, one step at a time. Keep posting, you'll get so much help and support here.
     
  4. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,496
    Female
    London
    You don't need a diagnosis to receive Attendance Allowance, you just have to be able to demonstrate her needs, met or unmet. Once you have that, you can apply for Council Tax Exemption.

    On a different note: caring from a distance is very, very difficult. Have you thought about looking into care homes for your mother? It might be the safest option for her, she would be fed and cared for and have her medical needs met as well, plus she will not be isolated but amongst other people. It really often is the best choice, and if she is under the financial threshold, Social Services would have to foot the bill (unless you want a different home to the one they propose).
     
  5. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Thank you so much for your replies. I'm a big strapping 6 foot 3 guy who is from that generation that never cries but tears started rolling down my cheeks when I read those, just because I've felt so isolated with it.

    The local ILT were filling in the Attendance Allowance form for me but as wonderful as she is, she is under pressure and keeps saying 'I'll finish it soon'.

    Mum really has no money or cards, not even a bank card. At one point she didn't withdraw her pension for two weeks and lived on £10. the trouble is, she is very stubborn and proud and even with her dementia will side step any questions with 'I'm fine, I don't need any help'. She refuses the idea of being in a home but I'm convinced we are at that stage now where she needs it. I am worried now she is in physical danger and have also left a message with the Safeguard team...it's just frustrating no one seems to be doing anything.

    It worries me more that there was an administrative error with her diagnosis, I've asked the GP to clarify but he's not got back to me...I fear it, like my mum, has just vanished in the gap in the system. The local council were very understanding (they must deal with it often) but did say without a diagnosis there could be no exemption.

    But your comments have calmed me down, any more advice or thoughts would be most welcome.

    Nigel
     
  6. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,393
    Female
    South coast
    Hi Nigel, I found unpaid bills posted between the towels in mums airing cupboard, but fortunately she had money in her account to pay them.
    I would check her home quite carefully - I found a stash of hundreds of pounds in cash hidden away in mums home and others on here have found similar.
     
  7. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    2,852
    England
    #7 Katrine, Aug 29, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
    Good point canary. It sounds as if your mum is used to cash money only Nigel. She could be giving the money away but it is more likely that she is hoarding it. The range of places where people hide their cash is extraordinary, and when clearing someone's house this should always be borne in mind. Under carpets, up the chimney, inside books, magazines and even between the pages of newspapers stacked up for recycling. In the freezer, rolled inside the best teapot, in the pockets of jackets and coats, in envelopes pinned to the hem of curtains, or stuck to the underside or back of furniture; not to mention the old favourites of under the mattress or the floorboards.

    In my own experience with MIL she kept her handbag sandwiched between her two pillows, or down behind her bed, and would divide her cash between different purses, then panicked when she found the purse in her handbag was empty. She hid notes in her underwear drawer, carefully laid flat under the paper drawer liner so it didn't show. Another favourite place was tucked inside a box of panty liners. It's a well known fact that burglars respect the privacy of a lady's unmentionables. :rolleyes:

    Think back on her cash management habits in the past, and this may give you clues as to what she's done with it. Usually people in your mum's situation follow their old habits but get muddled or take caution to extremes, hence hoarding and hiding is very common. MIL went through a phase of hiding hundreds of pounds in cash because she was afraid that she might not be well enough to get to the cash point. She could not accept that if she couldn't get to the shops then she wouldn't need cash. Having cash in the house made her feel secure. It had the opposite effect on us. :(
     
  8. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    356
    Firstly, well done for caring so much for your Mum. It sounds like she is in denial in respect of her dementia. She seems to think she is coping as she believes she is. It's you as an outsider can see she isn't, but with the dementia her normal isn't our expected normal.

    Personally I think it's me to start being heard, the only way to achieve this is by becoming a pain. The person who is filling in Attendance allowance sounds like she's brushing you off, have you tried asking citizens advice to fill in the form for you, or even the benefits departments have people to do this for you. Have you applied for carers allowance? You are still allowed to earn up to £100 I think per week, obviously you may over that at the moment but so you are aware.

    The GP, I would make an appointment or telephone appointment and discuss the situation and either ask him to visit her so he gets the picture or insist on an appointment with the memory clinic. The visit to the memory clinic will cost his surgery money so it may be most appealing for him to visit her if he is a cost cutting GP.

    Basically I can't advise you enough to start jumping up and down, phone people everyday if necessary, annoying for you and them but unfortunately this is the way of the world these days. Use the words vulnerable, duty of care, danger to herself, safeguarding, hazardous with the people who need to know including the GP.

    In respect of the cash with her spending ten pounds to live on it sounds like she has lost the understanding of the value of money, so now thinks ten pounds is a lot of money, probably the equivalent to her of £70 so thinks she is spending a lot. This is a common thing with older people anyway. I agree in respect of the money it's probably in the house somewhere, everywhere. Is she concerned about her funeral costs as a lot of pensioners are and they become fixated on that and hoard the money, and even taking in their handbag when in hospital with them.

    This group is a great place to ask anything, as usually someone has been in the same situation and nobody judges, so keep us updated please, and keep let others lighten your load if we can.. Also I've just thought pop into help the aged as they too help people fill in forms and have lots of advice leaflets too.
     
  9. Mrsbusy

    Mrsbusy Registered User

    Aug 15, 2015
    356
    Anglian water

    In respect of Anglian Water I've just thought I am sure that there is a special rate for people with medical needs, as they endure more washing so she maybe able to be put on that rate rather than pay full costs. Again I would ask citizens advice to phone them up and see if they can get them to be more sympathetic or accept instalments. If you really don't get anywhere with them tell them you will approach the press about there unhelpful attitude. You don't have to of course, but they don't know that.

    Another thought by the way, I don't mean to pry but was your Father or mother involved in any of the armed services? If so, even if your father has died, the British Legion help with funding so maybe able to pay the water bill for your mother. She doesn't have to be a member just as long as she or her partner served in the forces at anytime.
     
  10. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,958
    No wonder you're at your wits end. You're trying to sort out chaos at 100 miles distance, while knowing all the time the consequences may be really nasty for your Mum and your livelihood.

    If your Mum keeps money in her pockets as my Mum used to it's well worth checking the washing machine when you (or someone else trusted) can. Today's notes can go through a lot of washing cycles without disintegrating!

    With the water company you may get more joy if you go up the management chain ... which is what I did. I had to persuade the water company my Mum's incontinence and dementia meant there was a medical reason why bills based on the water meter readings were no longer acceptable. The junior staff kept on telling me about their income-related schemes (which might help your Mum - I think they certainly couldn't cut her off because she's an obviously vulnerable person), not relevant to our own situation. They denied there was any way of helping us on medical reasons grounds.

    The senior manager I eventually got through to understood what dementia is like (she'd experienced it in her own family) and immediately found the right solution for us.

    I'd suggest you raise a complaint with Anglia Water (take the war to them!), concerning their attitude to someone who is vulnerable because of dementia and whom their own company policies say should be treated with special care and consideration. Anglia Water will describe its policies for taking care of vulnerable customers on its web site - quoting their own words back at them can be a useful ploy. Good luck!
     
  11. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Thank you again. As an extra to this there is another issue:

    Mum has an outstanding water bill and CCJ against her from Anglian Water, totalling over £1,000! I've written to them, explained the situation, told them I'm only dealing with it in an administrative capacity and also that I'm arranging a meeting with the CAB so we can come up with a payment schedule.

    This morning I've received an officious text message asking me to pay by Monday!! I am most concerned that they've not listened and transferred the debt and liability (which they can't) to me! I've heard tale already that they are not a good company regarding these matters. I guess I want reassurance that the CCJ will not go against my name nor will the debt. I gave them my contact emails in good faith that they would be used for contact only and have reminded them on three occasions that the liability is not mine!
     
  12. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,496
    Female
    London
    This in itself is ridiculous. Not everyone has Internet banking and Monday is a bank holiday. You should try to speak to someone today. I have found tweeting quite effective as it publicly shames a company. Their Twitter address is @AnglianWater and they have last tweeted to someone two hours ago.
     
  13. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Good idea about going up the food chain...I've written them a very stern email and am now writing a physical letter to their Director of Customer Services.

    I've left other people and services in no doubt as to what I expect of them now...she seems to have fallen through a gap in the system. Since this happened in December 2014 I've had, I would say, four telephone calls from people concerned...three from the independent living team and one from the mental health team...I have to do all the calling and organising and enough is enough now...my life and business has suffered and it stops now I'm afraid!

    Your comments on here are invaluable.
     
  14. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,958
    Good luck Nigel. This may be the turning point when everything starts to get a bit more manageable. Everything takes so much time and energy to sort out, it is draining, BUT eventually intervals between the crises seem to lengthen ...
     
  15. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    537
    Female
    Surrey, UK
    Attendance Allowance

    The local ILT were filling in the Attendance Allowance form for me but as wonderful as she is, she is under pressure and keeps saying 'I'll finish it soon'.

    Nigel, I have just received help from a Dementia Navigator from my local Alzheimer's Society in completing an AA form for my mum-in-law. It's a tricky form to complete, as it's designed mainly for physical disabilities. I found it difficult to shoehorn m-i-l's condition into the relevant parts of the form, and I really could not have done it without help from the Dementia Navigator. If you haven't done so already, I do urge you to contact your local branch of Alzheimer's Society, as they can help you in more ways than you may realise. I don't know what an ILT is, but I would try to retrieve the form from them, as it sounds as if they may not have the right skills for this particular task!

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
     
  16. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    2,852
    England
    You don't need to get the draft AA form back. Just start again with a blank form. If this ILT (sorry, I also don't know what that is) eventually returns it then you can mine it for additional ideas and key phrases.
    I would expect any helper to be filling the form in during a face-to-face meeting with you, or at least a telephone discussion.

    When I did the form for MIL I got help from a manager at her new CH who was familiar with her care plan. Even though I thought I knew what to write, she helped me to know what MIL's needs were like 24/7, which of course nobody knew until she was living in residential care. Higher level AA is given if the person needs care at night. A skilled person will know what questions to ask to assess whether the applicant might qualify for higher level AA, even if they are not currently getting support at night. They can then make sure that the application highlights the issues that should attract the right scores.
     
  17. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Further confusion as it seems my mum has not been collecting her state pension...or has she? This is what I need to find out! She is adamant she has been collecting it but I suspect she hasn't. I've had three frustrating conversations with the Post Office but I understand they only act as agents for the DWP. I need to know asap if she has collected it as if not she really has been living on beans...again I'm 100 miles away so it's not easy to get there in the week when the Post Office is open. Has anyone any experience with LPA and pensions? Do I need to call the DWP? The bank were easy to deal with but the Post Office seem to be all over the place....the Financial Advisor at my local branch even told me there was no such thing as a power of attorney with Post Office accounts?!! This is where technology doesn't help in life, asking elderly people with memory issues to remember a four digit number is ludicrous! (Mum has no knowledge of the existance of a PIN and claims the girls in the Post Office know her and she goes in and picks up the pension every Monday)
     
  18. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,393
    Female
    South coast
  19. PeggySmith

    PeggySmith Registered User

    Apr 16, 2012
    1,685
    BANES
    Take the original LPA to your local Job Centre and they'll photocopy it on the spot and send the copy off to DWP. It's free. After that DWP have to talk to you. Post Office is a bit trickier but if you have her card, you can access her money.
     
  20. Nigel62

    Nigel62 Registered User

    Aug 28, 2015
    14
    St Albans
    Thanks again. The problem is a time issue as well as distance (I can only get to see mum at weekends). If, as I suspect, mum isn't collecting her pension then not only will there be a significant amount in the account but it means she is only getting money from the bank. In that case she will go overdrawn this week. She had £6 on her today. She is adamant she is collecting her pension and doesn't need a PIN to do so (anyone know if that is true?) as the PO girls know her! she isn't eating and is using what little money she has on smoking. I also need to make the CAB aware of all monies so we can create a schedule of repayments for the debts. Added onto this and I'm out of the country for 2 weeks from 19 Sept and it all becomes very urgent. I will try the DWP appointee process but we need to act much quicker than that. I found piles of letters under the bed today and even a paying in book for someone else?! I've no idea what has been going on...and all this for someone the local services deem to be fine to be living on her own.
     

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