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My 80-year-old Mom had a major right brain stroke about 6 weeks ago. She got the TPA shot in time, and physically has made quite a good recovery. Unfortunately, she came down with a severe case of pneumonia about a week after the stroke, which complicated matters. After several weeks of rehab, working on strength and balance, she's now home with my 82-year-old Dad.

 

And this is where the challenges begin.

 

While she was in the hospital/rehab, Dad needed my help with their finances - something Mom has always managed. We discovered that she'd run up thousands in credit card debt - money that as retirees on a fixed income, they couldn't afford. When he brought this up with her, my usually logical Mom could not understand what the issue was. She'd been paying on the credit cards and saw no problems. Unfortunately, what she was paying on the cards didn't come close to what she was spending on them. When Dad asked her what her plan was for paying off the cards, her response was, "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it."

 

She also continued to buy things off of QVC while she was in rehab. It got to the point that Dad was having me monitor her QVC account and cancel her purchases. She didn't even remember making the purchases. Finally, Dad decided to take away her credit cards, checkbook, and access to the bank account. And my normally calm, reasonable, logical Mom exploded. All she could say was, "I want my checkbook. It's MINE. It's MINE. I want it." And when she didn't like what Dad said, she put her fingers in her ears and started humming.

 

She's since decided that this is all my doing. I'm a hateful, evil, nasty, despicable child who has waited her entire life for this chance to ruin her life. She hates me and she never wants to see me again. Once she got home and got her computer back, she discovered that Dad had me block QVC, the bank website, and other shopping sites. And she exploded again. She picked up what was closest to her (thankfully, a roll of paper towels) and started hitting herself in the head before throwing them at me. Then she threatened to kick me into the furniture, before picking up her cane and jabbing at me with it, all the while accusing me of being Jesus. Then, one of her friends called and interrupted her. She completely changed her behavior and tone and talked to her friend like all was well.

 

After she got off the phone, I asked her to sit next to me and help me pay their bills. She calmly did, recording everything in the checkbook register while I handled the online transactions. Then it started to storm badly. She looked at me and said it wasn't safe for me to drive home in the storm, and I should stay and have dinner with them and wait until the storm blew over. In less than an hour, she went from hating me and trying to kick me, to being concerned about my driving in the storm. 

 

I do not know how to talk to her. Everything I say is wrong and has an ulterior motive. My Dad is crushed; he recognizes that there are issues, and he cannot let her near their finances right now. Having seen her react physically now, I'm concerned for both her and my Dad's safety. My Dad and I have both conveyed her behavior to her neurologist, and she sees him in 2 weeks. She saw her primary doctor the other day and has her completely fooled; the doctor told Mom she was a miracle. So now my mom thinks she's completely cured, there's nothing wrong with her, and she's a miracle. Thanks doc.

 

I would love any advice on how I should proceed. My mom has been my rock. I was in a severe car accident a few years ago, and my mom took me to PT 3 days a week for over a year. Without her, I wouldn't be able to function. Seeing her like this is breaking my heart, and hearing her tell me she hates me just crushes me - even though I know she doesn't mean it. I'm sorry for writing a novel here, but I just don't know what to do to help my parents right now. 

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I can't give you any advice but your heartrending mail demands that I reply to you and say that I have seen this sort of problem before, it is not unusual for people who have brain damage to behave like this. You have my sympathy and that is all I can offer.

Deigh

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3 minutes ago, Deigh said:

 I have seen this sort of problem before, it is not unusual for people who have brain damage to behave like this. You have my sympathy and that is all I can offer.

I concur his statement. I have relinquished my credit cards to my family for I now have an hair-trigger impulsivity.  :ashamed:

 

3 hours ago, Leia1191 said:

 

 

I do not know how to talk to her. Everything I say is wrong and has an ulterior motive. My Dad is crushed; he recognizes that there are issues, and he cannot let her near their finances right now. Having seen her react physically now, I'm concerned for both her and my Dad's safety. My Dad and I have both conveyed her behavior to her neurologist, and she sees him in 2 weeks. She saw her primary doctor the other day and has her completely fooled; the doctor told Mom she was a miracle. So now my mom thinks she's completely cured, there's nothing wrong with her, and she's a miracle. Thanks doc.

 

 

This is heart wrenching .  I would bring this up to her Neuro , what her PCP said. I'm not sure if her family doctor understands stroke..   

Is there something else that she can be responsible for? Like to get her mind off of finances? 

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For what it's worth, I don't think that your father had any choice but to cut her off financially. My only suggestion is to see if she will sit down with your father and you to go over their expenses, or their " have to pay" bills like rent or mortgage, power, water, and groceries.

Then subtract them from what they have coming in so that you can show her in black-and-white why her spending is out0of-pace with what they have coming in. I wouldn't be surprised if she won't do this. She isn't going to want to put herself in a position where she can be proven wrong.

   Know that her behavior is due to the stroke, and may be resistant to change. Encourage your father to keep refusing to give her credit cards back until the current balances are paid off. It's his future too. 

 

 

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Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions. I really appreciate you all sharing your experiences with me; it helps tremendously to hear that we're not alone in this. Kelli, thank you for sharing your experiences with credit cards too; Mom never used to have such an impulsive spending nature, and for me, the more I understand how strokes affect this, the better I can help Dad (and Mom) come up with a plan to manage their finances. 

 

We have shown her in black and white what's going on, but as Becky mentioned, she doesn't want to be proven wrong. Right now, Dad has her helping with meal planning/grocery lists, and she seems to like that, so that's something. She's not talking to me at all, which hurts. But I'm not her day-to-day caregiver, and I feel somewhat better knowing she's not taking her anger out on my Dad, who is.

 

Dad and I have been talking about giving her a pre-paid card; he's of the opinion that if he gives her a way to prove to herself that she can't control her spending, in a manner that won't destroy their credit, it may help prove our point. He hasn't decided yet how he wants to proceed; for now, she doesn't have access to anything.

 

I will definitely let her Neuro know what the PCP said to her, as these comments aren't helpful. Fortunately, her PT has been quietly reinforcing that she has much to work on. She trusts the PT, so that is helping.

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