Tales of Caution: Early Sign Of Dementia

Hi there, Bridget Mackay, I’m an estate planning attorney and elder law attorney in Petaluma, California, and today my video blog is going to focus on one of my ‘Tales of Caution’. This is a tale about Eunice, an 87-year-old woman, and her daughter, Jan.

So Eunice was still living in her own home at 87 that she had shared with her late husband. Her daughter, Jan, on a visit to see Eunice, noticed that her mother was having some problems keeping her bills straight. When they were due, remembering what she paid. However, Jan did not want to interfere with that, because in all other respects, her mom seemed okay otherwise. She was keeping her house clean, she kept herself well-dressed and groomed, and she was keeping her social life up, so Jan figured she’d figure it out and things couldn’t be that bad.

But about six months after she first noticed Eunice having trouble paying the bills, or not really having trouble, but not being really clear about what she’s paid and when things were due, she noticed that when she came to visit six months later, Eunice’s electricity had been turned off, and she had been living for a week without electricity. She’d been getting heat from her gas oven and she was using candles at night if she needed to read something. She wasn’t much of a TV watcher.

Jan discovered, in looking into this, that her PG&E had been shut off and her electric bill hadn’t been paid for a long time and that Eunice had ignored several late notices. It took Jan another week to restore electricity to her mom’s home, and in that time, Eunice came and stayed with her.

The point of this tale of caution is that losing track of bill paying, and sometimes it results in people paying too much, too. I’ve seen that as well. Either not paying or paying too much is an early sign of dementia. If you notice this in your loved one, don’t ignore it. Offer to help, even if it looks like everything else in their life is together. Point it out to them and tell them you’re concerned. At worst, Eunice could’ve caused harm to herself by using heat, improvising her heat and light. I mean, a fire, an explosion, all of these things come to mind. But at the very least, her physical health was vulnerable without electricity in her home. Everybody needs that for their basic care.

So if you need help addressing the practical aspects of handling the onset of dementia for your loved one, contact a qualified estate planning attorney. We can look at the different ways in which you can step in and start helping your loved one.

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