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Time to take cheque book away?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by MrsMoose, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    I've posted before about my father-in-law's spending.

    The sums aren't huge but he buys DVDs that he then decides he doesn't want to watch. Most of them are passed on to us unopened. Or else he'll open them, watch a few minutes and decide they're not what he wants. (He has a huge library of DVDs but mostly just watches one or two. I think this is because he can remember the plots which means he can understand and appreciate them.)

    He has a modest income from a couple of pensions, and at times expresses worry that he'll run out of money (He also wants to keep largish sums of cash in his sheltered flat. As well as stashing some money in his desk, he hides notes in the pages of books in his bookcase.) My husband had discussed the DVD buying and there'd been an agreement that my father-in-law would have a chat with him when he next wanted some. Then they'd do the ordering together.

    Inevitably my father in law has forgotten this. My husband gets the bank statements and FiL has put in an order for two lots of DVDs at mail order companies. The total is just over £100.

    My husband said he'd have another talk. I said I thought that the talks were pretty useless because they were forgotten. Taking a cheque book away - though distressing for both my husband and fil seems the right way forward to me. My husband has just gone to my fil's bank. This is to see whether it might be possible to a) put a lowish limit on the cheques they'll pay and/or b) only accept a cheque when it's also been signed by him.

    Just wondered what thoughts people had. My husband is also going to call his brother, before any further attempt to tackle his Dad.
  2. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    After my Mum lost her 4th set of bank cards in a year I took action and asked the bank to issue me with a card so she would only work with cash. If she wanted anything mail order I either did it on the internet or phoned it from her house. Since I saw her every day she was happy with this. I told her the bank manager wanted her to do this as he was worried about her getting her money stolen - a little love lie.

    I found out at that point that she had spent £800 on vitamins from a very aggressive mail order company that was automatically sending her pills every 2 months. I think she was ashamed of it and hid the pills - I found a whole cupboard in the kitchen full of this stuff.

    You could make the change better by asking your husband to choose DVDs and watching them with his Dad. What about things that don't have a plot as such - nature documentaries, comedy shows etc?

    Im assuming that someone has POA. If not I think you need it soon. I would hide the cheque book while deciding. I find with most men the ironing basket is an ideal location!

  3. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    Does your husband have power of attorney?
    Do you think FIL has lost capacity to deal with finances?

    If yes then by all means protect him by taking the chequebook away and taking over the finances. You could also get him a library card and supervise him taking out DVDs from there? Interestingly enough our libraries here don't fine people over 65 for not bringing back things on time though obviously you might want to stay on top of his borrowing from there.
  4. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    Hi, yes we have power of attorney.

    The DVD thing is just a bit out of control anyway. Not only does he have a big collection, but so do we - so can lend him stuff easil at any time. And my fil's other son has organised an Amazon prime(?) thing so he gets new DVDs on loan from there on a regular basis.

    He could also watch films on Freeview but doesn't know how to work his remote for anything other than terrestrial channels.

    I did used to get him Talking Books from the library - older people do pay fines and hire charges in my local authority, though there's a reduced rate. It was not straigthforward as my father couldn't get it into this head that things were due back at a particular time - and DVD hire is only for a week. They'd have to be ordered via reservation from my community library. We could do it, but like most things it would take a lot of organisation because my fil is muddly and doesn't get how things work, and half the time we'd do the stuff he said he wanted and then he'd say he didn't want it after all..
  5. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009

    Thank you for making me LOL:)
  6. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    It might be worth checking with library as some give an exemption from late fines. Not easy as they still need returning, do you have library visitors in your area who will take and then collect books?
  7. creativesarah

    creativesarah Registered User

    I have got a pay as you go debit card (Orange but ither cards are available eg post office)
    that way i keep a small amout on it and don't need to worry as its not linked to a bank account and you can put a limited amount on it.
    Hope this might help
  8. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    That's really interesting Sarah, I need to look into it. Thanks.

    Hope you're doing OK?:)
  9. skaface

    skaface Registered User

    Jul 18, 2011
    It wasn't Elbon Wellbeing was it? They took £400 from my mum but the bank was very good and noticed that someone had taken that amount from mum's bank account and then stopped her card. I went mad at the company by letter and told their fortune for them. There's still piles of rosehip tablets in her kitchen, which are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. I had to take my mum into the bank to try to sort it out, but she took it into her head that I was robbing her and refused to co-operate more than the very basic stuff.

    Because I used to do mum's shopping with her bank card (I don't do that now, I now have a cashback card in my name which is loaded automatically with a fixed amount after it drops below a certain amount, for me to do her shopping) I decided I was going to hang on to it so she couldn't give the details out over the phone again. I don't know where her cheque book is, I wish I did then I would take it home with me, as she changed her telephone supplier to some fly-by-night outfit without me knowing, using the information on her cheque book. She refuses to donate LPA to me, so I think eventually the Court of Protection will take over. I know I can apply to be a Deputy, but I haven't got the money for that.
  10. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    There's now been a trip by my husband to his Dad'sm a discussion between me and my husband, plus another phone discussion between my husband and his brother. As well as a trip to the bank manager who has said he will not issue any more cheque books to my father in law.

    My brother in law confirmed that not only as he been sorting out Amazon DVD rental for his Dad, but also sending him regular additional gifts of DVDs. So my father-in law's own purchases of batched mainly unwatched DVDS seem even more unnecessary. (Father in law seemed to have no recollection/understanding that he was receiving the rental ones when my husband talked to him.)

    It seems that there will be a 'Taking existing cheque book away' conversation on Saturday.

    Which won't be much fun.
  11. chris53

    chris53 Registered User

    Nov 9, 2009
    Hello Mrs Moose,you seem to have a very understanding bank manager,it's great you are getting support there, just a passing thought, any chance you could contact these mail order companies? to either get his name removed from their mailing list or maybe not accepting an order? with my mum is was a well established clothing company that kept sending her some what excessive mail shots week after week which always had "urgent open immediately" on it..which used to worry her in case it was important, a phone call to the manager of customer services,plus an email to the company stopped this without having to mention the fact she has alzheimers, just said mum is elderly,frail and it upsets her receiving this sort of mail.
    Good Luck:rolleyes: on the removal of the cheque book, could you say they are issuing all senior people with new cheque books and the bank wishes to have all old correspondence and cheque books/cards back? it may avoid any upset for your father in law.
    Best wishes
  12. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    I think removal from mailing lists would be good. If all goes according to plan, then my father in law will approach my husband when future mailshots arrive. So we can then get hold of the companies.

    There are obviously quite a lot of strategies people use with relatives, because the end justifies the means.

    But at this stage my husband would be reluctant to do anything that appeared untruthful. I think the ideal outcome would be if my father in law could be brought to acknowledge that the illness which affects his memory means that unfortunately he can make mistakes when shopping - so his money will be safer if he lets us support him in looking after it.
  13. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I'm sorry but most people living with dementia don't respond to logic anymore. It's no good thinking you can convince him of the error of his ways, which is why most relatives have to resort to love lies to protect them. The fact your FIL can get DVDs via your husband does not mean he will understand that he shouldn't order any himself anymore. Deception really often is the kindest way and your husband will have to understand that he can't bring him out of dementia world - he will have to go there himself. Keeping FIL safe and happy is the most important thing - telling him he makes mistakes won't do that. Here's a good link to compassionate communication:
  14. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    Unfortunately it's often the case that the worse dementia gets, the less likely it is that the person will admit or even realise that there is a problem. And even if they do accept it when you discuss it, they are liable to forget so quickly, so you are faced with the same discussion or argument over and over.
    Your husband's reluctance to resort to untruths is very understandable, and I think many of us here will have felt exactly the same - 'I can't, it wouldn't be right,' etc. But by a certain stage we have come to realise that 'love lies' may be the best, or even only, way to avoid a lot of pointless and stressful distress or argument.
  15. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    We'll see how the conversation goes. I think my father in law's temperament and his memory fluctuates a lot. So on some days more 'reasonable' conversations are possible - though as people rightly point out, such conversations may not linger in the the mind.

    Because of the profession my husband worked in, I think he is trying to treat his father very much as he would have treated a client. In a way that's ethical. As it was I really had to argue with him about his wish to give his Dad 'another chance', reminding his fater one more time re their former agreement about the cheque book and not making solo purchases.

    I said it's pointless doing that. He'll just forget, and spend money that could/should be spent on buying him - for example - badly needed clothing to replace worn-out shirts and threadbare jumpers.

    This might just be me, but I do struggle with the terminology 'love lies.' In our case my husband doesn't - sadly - have a lot of affection for his Dad, though he is treating him with care and kindness. So we're just left with the phrase 'lies'....
  16. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    How about:

    caring lies
    kindness lies
    dementia lies
    little white lies
    alternate reality lies

    It doesnt matter what you call it, it all boils down to the fact that sometimes you have to do it to prevent problems.
  17. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Hello, Mrs. Moose. I appreciate you are in a difficult situation concerning your father-in-law. I think it's fantastic you got a helpful response from the bank manager and hope you'll be able to continue to have a good working relationship with the bank.

    Of course we aren't you, or your husband, and cannot tell you what will or will not work with your FIL. I also applaud your husband for wanting to treat his father in an ethical and kind manner, especially (or particularly, perhaps) given a difficult relationship. I am an only child with a mother with dementia. She and I have only ever had a difficult relationship so I have some sympathy with what this must be like for your husband, in dealing with his father.

    I hope you don't mind me sharing some personal experiences, just to give you my perspective on this situation.

    As you know, part of the problem with dementia is that the person with dementia can no longer be logical, rational, or reasonable, due to the physical changes in their brain. Of course there are moments of greater or lesser lucidity, and every person with dementia experiences the disease differently.

    This is complicated by the fact that I am sure you and your husband have your father-in-law's best interests at heart, and of course you want him to be protected financially. (My mother fell prey to scams for "charitable donations" to the tune of several thousand pounds, which was horrible, and I'm still cleaning up those messes months later.) At least here in the States, not only does the power of attorney enable one to make financial decisions for someone, it obligates one to do the best possible job. So I have an ethical, as well as legal, responsibility to protect my mother's finances. I assume it's similar in the UK? At any rate, your husband sounds like the type of person who would take these responsibilities seriously and would make sure his father's money was properly managed, whether his father liked it or not!

    In my own case with my mother, I have decided that the most important thing in dealing with her is to spare her as much upset and anxiety as possible. This is because my mother, who has struggled for many years with anxiety and depression, suffered a great deal in recent years (before her dementia diagnosis) from crippling and heart-rending anxiety related to the fact that she couldn't cope with the activities of daily living (paying bills, opening mail, shopping, cooking, cleaning, running errands, laundry, hygiene, et cetera). Since she has moved into the care home, this has almost completly disappeared, and she is so much calmer and better off without the anxiety (and her blood pressure dropped to the point where she no longer needs the hypertension medications).

    Therefore, my first wish is to spare my mother anxiety. If this means I lie all day every day about everything, so be it. There is no point in trying to get her to understand anything, because she is not capable, and it would only distress her. I think I have a moral obligation, if not an ethical one, to not distress my mother...and so I lie. When she asks me how on earth we are paying the care home bills, I lie and tell her Medicare and her insurance take care of all the costs. When she asks if there's enough money, I lie and tell her there's enough to take care of anything she needs forever. When she asks when she will go home, I lie and tell her "soon, but not today." When she asks when we will go shopping to buy her a new car, I say, "whenever you want, but not right now, because we are going out to lunch/out for a drive/et cetera." I do what I have to do, and you and your husband will figure out what works and do what you have to do, also.

    We're not here to judge you, but rather to be supportive and offer suggestions, advice, and personal experience. Best wishes to you.
  18. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    Thanks everyone. I've passed people's feedback onto my husband. I think one issue for us is that my father in law is - in some ways - well supported. He is for the time being able to live in his sheltered flat a few miles away with a warden. A carer comes in every morning, and offers breakfast. He has a communal lunch with other residents. We buy additional shopping and have him round for a meal regularly. He has a good GP and we are just a few miles away from a good teaching hospital.

    We are not part of any kind of carers' group.

    I rather wish my husband felt able to access a bit more support and information with his Dad. I got him a useful library book about Alzheimers and am the one who joined this forum - so feed him news about other people's situation.

    I think my husband is just rather an independent minded sort. He is also I think trying to imagine how he would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. (But it is quite a leap to imagine how one's brain might work in such a situation.) Though it sounds horrid I did say to him yesterday that I thought it was probably more like dealing with a toddler than a well rational adult. (Toddlers needing clarity and a simple framework. Not being able to cope with too much information.)
  19. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Mrs Moose, there was a book I read about the ethics of caregiving, and how to make decisions for people who cannot make decisions for themselves. I will find the title and author for you. Unlike many of the other books I've read about dementia/Alzheimers/caregiving, it was very logically and clearly laid out and had all sorts of guidance about how to decide if you could make decisions for the other person and was very grounded in ethics. I remember it, because it was so different.

    I'll go have a look in the other room and see if I still have it from the library. Hang on...

    Alas, I must have returned it. I will track that information down for you. Even if it's not something you want to read, or your husband does, it might help someone else here. It's quite late here (or early, depending on how you look at it) so I will get on this after I get some sleep.

    And by the way, what you said to your husband about dealing with a person with dementia being like dealing with a toddler? I don't think that sounds horrid, at all. That's often how I feel about dealing with my mother. I don't think anyone here is going to think you said something awful, or that you are an awful person. What's awful here, is the dementia.
  20. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    Amy in the US, the book sounds interesting. I suppose I'd like to think that what I/we were doing was as morally right as possible.

    The cheque book removal hasn't happened yet.

    Yesterday morning we had a call from my brother in law who lives abroad. He'd asked his father on the phone about his spending £100 in a month on DVDs and his Dad had got very agitated. How did his (older) son know? Through the bank statements that my husband gets, he was told.

    Then my father in law got agitated. Why were his two sons spying on him? Brother in law - who is one of those absent siblings who likes to lay down the law - told us it wasn't worth upsetting his Dad and he doesn't mind if it's only £100 a month spent.

    My husband then went round to pick up his Dad and noticed that there was a newish looking DVD in the bin. He said, 'Oh did this fall off the table?' At which point his Dad said he'd begun watching it - but it hadn't been interesting.'

    Normally he gives all the unwanted ones - of which there are many - to us. Because he thinks we'd like them. And we pass the great majority to Oxfam.

    So the bin thing seemed like guilty (failed) concealment.

    I think the cheque book removal is going to happen soon though....

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