“Elder Care: Don’t Steal Mom’s Identity”…..the ITRC
Thinking back over the years when I still took care of Mom, I remember adult “caregivers” telling me how their son/daughter (was then) living in their parent’s home – rent free but of course – since the grandmother had been placed in a ALF or Convalescent Center. I would ask the “caregiver” if their parent who currently resided in an ALF or convalescent center, gave them written permission for this cozy rent free situation. I already knew the answer, but I wanted to hear what they had to say. NO, they said….she’s not living in it she’s in an ALF – I doubt she will ever live in it again – it is just sitting there vacant – I figured Mom (Nana) wouldn’t mind – and (my personal favorite) — my son/daughter really need a place to live for a while – they can’t afford to pay anyone rent.
Oh and yes, a neighbor down the street needed a bed for their guest room and since “Nana” wouldn’t be home anytime soon, they gave the bed to the neighbor (“Nana’s” bed, mind you – not the caregivers to give). The shopping trips and movies that also didn’t include “Nana” but came out of “Nana’s” funds. Have a couple of past due debts? It’s OK, write a check out of “Nana’s” account…..she has plenty of money.
The son or daughter and their friends who used “Nana’s” car that she could of course, no longer drive, for their daily trips to and from school – not to mention the many stops along the way. How did that work? Oh yes, extracurricular activities. I know of one instance where “Nana’s” car was wrecked – and the funds to restore it came out of “Nana’s” funds ! I asked this individual how exactly is that justified? “Nana” paying for her own car, that she no longer is capable of driving – to be repaired due to a teenager driving (with caregivers “permission”) like a maniac and wrecking a car that they had NO right to be driving in the first place? That is so wrong, where do I start?
My blood boiled. At the time I was my Mom’s caregiver. I kept meticulous records of each and every expense. I had to be accountable to Mom’s Elder Attorney and my sister – at all times—which is the way it should be.
I kept receipts, cancelled checks, records of discrepancies from companies trying to SCAM my Mother, statements, bank paperwork, car insurance updates, the sale of her home, the sale of her car, ALL proceeds going back into MOM’s account. It is my MOTHER’S money – NOT mine, not my sister’s.
I remember in particular, one of MOM’S friends. I gave her a check out of Mom’s account to get (MOM) some nice spring clothes from a fairly affluent Thrift Shop. (I made it perfectly clear that I needed a receipt for each purchase) – Let’s suffice it to say – she didn’t pay Mom back, nor did she buy her one stitch of clothes from this money. With the help from Mom’s Elder Attorney, I got back every single cent. I deposited the $350.00 back into Mom’s account. Perfect example – right?
Of course the individuals mentioned above never approached me again regarding funds that did not belong to THEM. I simply told them they needed to be in Jail. That is how strongly I felt about the “freebies” being dished out. How shameful of these “caregivers”.
Check with your Elder Attorney in your State, ask questions on caregiver funds and possessions, do your research, find out how to keep records, set up a filing system, your name added to your loved ones account (NOT in your name only). The Elder Attorney will be an invaluable resource to explain the laws on this matter. Call (EA) them on all financial issues. Call (EA) for suggestions, advice, anything concerning your loved ones affairs.
Thank you to ITRC – “Identity Theft Resource Center” for featuring my book: “Alzheimer’s Through My Mother’s Eyes” in your wonderful and informative article. Such an important issue for families, friends, relatives and all that are involved with your loved one. Keep it honest.