How to help my SIL who is dealing w/husband w/dementia (early Alzheimer
July 7, 2016 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My sister-in-law is the most empathetic, caring for others person in the world & she is dealing with something hard: a husband who has been diagnosed with "dementia" in his mid-60s. The problem is finances...

They have enough, thanks to an inheritance, but he is recklesslessly buying things for one son & accusing her of stealing money when she tries to pay the bills. He goes to the bank to take her off accounts when she is the only one with a grasp on reality. Where can she turn to get support & advise on the best way to handle things, going forward?
posted by spock to Work & Money (5 answers total)
She probably needs to speak with a lawyer about being appointed his financial conservator.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2016 [28 favorites]

Does she have a written copy of the diagnosis? If not, she needs to get a letter from the doctor that explains that he is no longer competent to manage his own affairs.

Does he have a will or any kind of Power of Attorney? She needs to take any paperwork he does have, and the letter from the doctor, and go see an elder law attorney as soon as possible. They'll need to have him declared incompetent and set her up as his guardian with access to all his finances.

This will be hard, especially if he's being paranoid. But it's a start, so she can protect the resources she will need in order to care for him.

Do his sons know about the diagnosis? She needs to tell the family, and explain the situation. It's likely that he's been covering and they may not realize it's gotten this bad. Or worse, they're taking advantage of that.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room has a lot of good advice and good resources, although it's less about the practical aspects of caregiving and more about the emotional stuff. Which is also important.
posted by suelac at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]

Only a lawyer in their state/province/etc. will be able to give accurate advice on the best way forward legally. Some localities require diagnoses from separate doctors, for example.

It may be necessary to get new credit card and bank account numbers if he has them memorized or written down someplace. There are also still some places that will let you order things and bill you for them so she may need to keep an eye out for him shifting to things like that after he's cut off.

As suelac mentions, dealing with the paranoia may be an incredibly painful process. Is there any way that running the fiscal matters can be turned over (at least in name) to a responsible son in order to keep your FIL from lashing out at your SIL?
posted by Candleman at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2016

My father has dementia and has similar problems, although to a lesser degree. First step for my mother and I was doctor certifying that he is no longer competent to manage his own affairs. Second step was solicitor to check into power of attorney (existing) that was activated by his incapacity. If that hadn't been in place I would have sought arrangements for guardianship. Have multiple certified copies of every document made and be prepared to lodge them with every bank, utility company, insurer, medical professional and so on.
posted by t0astie at 7:56 PM on July 7, 2016

Depending on your state, what she needs to look into is a conservatorship. She needs to contact a family law attorney asap.
posted by checkitnice at 1:38 AM on July 8, 2016

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