mum fretting and shouting about money

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by nellen, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. nellen

    nellen Registered User

    Mar 17, 2009
    Hi I have POA on my mum's finances, so her bank account is in my name i pay the bills and manage all her finances - i live about 45 miles away and my brother lives 2 minutes walk away.

    My mum has alzheimers and vascular dementia as well as being registered blind with age related macular degeneration, she is in sheltered housing with full time on site carers and attends the day centre 3 days a week which she loves, and wins all the quizzes. She is quite feisty and fairly stable with her aricept medication. Sometimes she gets what i call a gloomy phase but usually it lifts after a few days and she's back to herself.

    Recently i have had phone calls from her saying she can't access her bank account and she wants to go and buy things (she can't get about any more with her sight and knee problems) when i explain that her bank acc is in my name as i pay her bills and buy her clothes etc. My brother and i keep money in a locked cashbox for her and keep about £30 in her purse for everyday spending. She keeps shouting down the phone at me saying she can manage her finances and doesn't need me to do this for her, and stop treating her like a child etc, etc

    My brother and i usually manage to calm her and she's fine about it - until the next time - she starts thinking about it all or remembers it - i call these phases her bee in her bonnet - sometimes she keeps going on about somebody she's taken a dislike to, sometimes its something she heard or misheard - they last for a week or more and then go and usually i manage to distract her by talking about something else.
    This one is very difficult to handle as she forgets whats been said and keeps starting this off again.
    This morning at 8 30 she was on the phone ranting and raving at me and ended up putting the phone down on me saying she was very disappointed in her children (we are in our 50's) for doing this to her. She rang later on and i said "mum, i'm not going to keep answering the phone to you if you keep shouting at me, and everything i and my brother do for you is to help you" She was like a child promising to buy me presents etc I don't want presents

    I just don't know what to do when she's like this - i've told the sheltered housing manager to keep an eye on her and try to involve her in things more.

    Is this a blip on her behaviour and she will stabilise again or is it a decline - i've noticed a few little incidents like delusions recently too.
  2. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    Just a thought - it is getting close to Christmas. Perhaps she wants to buy presents and therefore wants more than her usual pocket money? You could ask her if she would like you to help with this, or perhaps a support worker of some kind? If it's just a general thing about control of her money then it's probably just an emotional reaction kicking off about feeling disempowered by her illness. Being forced by circumstances to trust someone else to manage your money is a really difficult thing for someone to cope with.

    My husband has been managing his mum's money for some years now and generally she is relieved not to have to worry about it, but every now and then she complains to her other children that he is keeping her in the dark and she needs to understand everything about her money. Yeah, you do feel the need to understand, Mum, but sadly your brain cannot process the information any more. :( Of course we don't say this to her face.

    So sorry to hear that your mum shouts at you and your brother when she feels frustrated like this. It must feel to her like being a child again; having people manage things for her. You can't change that, but her anger is understandable. I think you said the right thing when she rang back though, you have to tell her it's not acceptable to rant at you.

    When my mum started to rant every time she spoke to me on the phone I found an excuse to end the call quickly rather than staying on the line to listen to the abuse. And if she rang back to "have her say" (oh, how she always had to have the last word! :rolleyes:) I would say what you did, that if she couldn't talk to me without shouting then it would be better to speak to me another time when she was feeling calmer. She would then ring my brother to complain that I had been insulting her and she was sooooo upset, boo hoo, which was followed by a phone call from him to insist that I stop upsetting his mother and to desist from whatever bad thing I had done (usually invented by mother). :rolleyes: It sounds as if you and your brother are more of a team. :)

    As you have found, if you don't give her the air time then mum will try another tactic. It's so sad that she felt she had to bribe you. But it is what a child would do to get someone to be nice to them. It's sometimes hard to treat a parent with respect as an adult when they behave like a brat! :rolleyes:
  3. nellen

    nellen Registered User

    Mar 17, 2009
    thanks for your reply. Katrine
    Its hard isn't it.
    Most of the time my mum is very happy to have me manage her money and she says how she trusts me and my brother with her life - the complaining and accusing me of treating her like a child seems to be a recent thing. You're right, its probably as xmas approaches and everywhere she goes its xmas fayres and talk of presents etc and i do understand how my mum, especially, would feel disempowered by having us manage her affairs - she just isn't able to manage her life at all now and on one level she knows this and on another level she sees herself as being capable of doing all that she used to do

    Tonight, after my brother had given mum a "little talking to" i rang her and she said "oh, i've been sitting here all day wandering if you were ok" when i asked her why she couldn't remember, and said "you know" I said no i don't, she said "but you do" - Its like something out of Kafka. I think that she knows that she has upset me but she can't remember the how, or the why, or the what.
    Oh well, she's at her day centre for the next three days and is occupied, so fingers crossed, i won't get the phone calls about money and bank accounts from her.
    Its just a question of keep smiling, keeping positive and being patient with her
  4. FifiMo

    FifiMo Registered User

    Feb 10, 2010
    Maybe you need to stop reminding her that you are running her finances for her now. Next time she phones, say something like, yes I borrowed your card last time I was there because i had to pay xxxxxxxx for you - i'll bring the card back next time i am over to see you ok? Tell her to check in her purse, that she has money there, if she needs to buy something. If someone is feeling disempowered then it will be like a red rag to a bull reminding them that you're now in control. On one hand it is interesting how they remember such things but don't remember what they had for lunch isn't it. It is almost like the paranoia keeps things in the memory for longer than it would other things.

    If it was me, I really would play this down so it doesn't become all consuming, pacify her, make vague commitments to return her cards that kinda thing. Make a promise to take her shopping next time you visit perhaps? Anything, to keep her calm. If she doesn't go out and doesn't have the opportunity to use her cards, could you not just give her an old out of date card to keep in her purse?

    Interestingly, my mother was obsessive about her money, right up until she was taken into hospital with a broken shoulder. The hosp sent her handbag home and my mother hasn't mentioned money since. Until then she counted her money every 5 minutes, carried huge amounts of cash around with her, was obsessed with the money and yet, as soon as the handbag was out of sight it was forgotten and hasn't been mentioned since she got out of hosp and went to a care home. Makes me wonder whether the obsession was being fuelled by things being visible (eg purse, handbag).

  5. susanne1964

    susanne1964 Registered User

    Mar 1, 2010
    Hi Nellen,

    We had this with my dad, I am in "control" of his finances and it worked very well for a long time. He then went through a stage where literally every week I had to take over banks statements, investments, etc. He totally trusts me to do the right thing.
    Although, there were times where he would mistrust us which was horrible because I have never done anything to make him mistrust me.

    I personally think it is a stage as now a couple of months later my dad does not even mention bank statements etc although we are going through another one but thats a different post :)

    All I can say is reassure your mum the best way you can and maybe sometimes change the subject (in the nicest way), she knows deep down you are looking after her finances the best way you can

  6. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    I agree with Fiona. Very sensible advice IMHO.

    Interesting point about the handbag as well - it jogged my memory. When my mum developed sudden-onset dementia she needed a full-time live-in carer. She was unable to use the kitchen or do any of her former domestic activities, but her handbag was still her constant companion - such an ingrained habit. When they went out the handbag had to go with her and she would check the contents: glasses, tissues, pen, notebook, purse, keys. The purse had to have a decent amount of cash in it, plus cards (we substituted an out of date bank card and a few loyalty cards).

    After 18 months the bag was quietly being phased out by the carers but then my brother, trying to be helpful, decided that she didn't use the bag because it was too scruffy, so he bought her a new one, with a natty check pattern. She named this bag Mrs. T :D. Over the course of the next year she got to the point where the bag was seldom opened, and usually stayed on a chair in the hall rather than going with them when they went out. The purse was now empty of notes; it just had a little bit of change in it for appearances. If she ever asked where her bag was it was easy to fetch it for her.

    However, I noticed a few weeks ago that Mrs. T has moved from the hall (ready for outings) and has retired to the bedroom (which is of course the place of retreat and safety). It has taken nearly 4 years for my mum to go from handbag dependent to letting go of that ritual of control and competence.

    The same can be said for money management; it is a gradual process where gratitude for assistance is mixed with bouts of resentment. It isn't really you that your mum is cross with, it is her own weakness that frustrates her.
  7. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    How about the next time your mother fixates on not being able to access her account, just say "I'll call about that for you and see what I can do". Repeat ad infinitum. :)

    I really don't think explaining the real situation will work as she probably won't remember. Having a set line might (might) help.
  8. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    #8 Katrine, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
    We did that over the issue of MIL's cheque book. It had to be removed because she was vulnerable to predatory cold callers and the siren call of commemorative coins, stamps and other tat offered in the papers. Of course she forgot why she had agreed to hand it over and after a few days began to insist that she must have her cheque book back. She went through a phase of going on about the cheque book daily, and sometimes more often, ringing me during the day to remind me to tell OH when he got home from work. Both he and I told her, quite truthfully, that No, he did not have her cheque book any more. Actually it is still in my bedroom drawer, but as far as MIL is concerned her son does not have her cheque book.

    Then she said she was going to the bank to get a new one. OH said "I can get the bank to sort that out." Not a lie, he could get the bank to sort that out if he wanted to, but he doesn't! And so the situation stands 18 months later, with MIL occasionally saying she is going to ring the bank, but she never does. She has absolutely no need of a cheque book any more - it is a control thing. She says she wants to be able to write a cheque for hundreds of pounds if she feels like it, and OH as her attorney has to ensure that she cannot do this without consulting him.

    Oh what a tangled web :( But if you develop a script, as Joanne suggests, it gets easier to offer to do whatever it is tomorrow, or the next day, or some time soon.
  9. Keely

    Keely Registered User

    Aug 6, 2007
    I agree with all of the above. We found when mum wanted her card and her money and yes shouted at my sister she was treating her like a child the best thing is not to rationalise it with her. You can't reason with someone who has lost the ability to reason. Just say something like you did use the card and will be returning it and there is money there in her purse. My mum could not see enough to tell if she had a card so we just left a store points collection card in there - you know the type the loyalty ones - she thought it was a debit card and was happy enough. I'd be reluctant to get in to debate my experience is it just gets worse. Remember its the illness not her, but I think they know that things are slipping from them and just try to hang on. Little consulation I know. Keep your chin up - its a difficult illness but you sound as if you and your brother are doing a great job. x

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