Have you ever made a bad decision? What about that used car that the guy assured you was in mint condition, or those expensive designer shoes that hurt your feet just a little bit, or that boyfriend you forgave because he swore she was just a friend. Yeah, we’ve all had lapses in judgment from time to time, but people with Alzheimer’s take “decreased or poor judgment” to a whole new level:
People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
As far as I know, Mom and Dad were only fell prey to scams a couple of times. The first happened before I realized there was a problem. Somehow they became convinced, either by themselves or by a slick salesman that they needed a living trust, even though they had no assets to speak of other than their house and car. By the time I learned that I was the secondary trustee, it was a done deal. When I took over management of their financial issues, I discovered that the trust had remained empty with none of their few assets being transferred into it. Thankfully the only loss was the $500 “legal fee” they paid to get it set up.
The other scam was the full-house alarm I wrote about in the first article in this series. You remember: user confusion, accidental activations, phone call, blaring alarm, irate daughter, veiled threats, system removal. If you missed it, the link is at the bottom of this post. Less dramatic lapses in judgment resulted in missed payments and late fees that were easily remedied once I took control.
The part of this warning sign that was not as easily controlled was the part about personal hygiene. Dad especially became very lax about bathing and using deodorant several years before our Florida move. By the time we began to share living quarters, their cleanliness standards had slipped to the point that they became a major problem for a while. You can read all the unpleasant details in a post I wrote last year called Why Do Old People Smell Bad?
I knew this was a fairly universal problem for caregivers, because it was a frequent topic of conversation at our caregiver support group meetings, but I didn’t realize how universal it was until my “smelly” post became my most searched topic over the next few months. If you’re interested in the stats, check out my post called Who Knew There Were So Many Smelly People.
So, don’t beat yourself up about that car, those shoes or that boyfriend. Learn from your mistakes and move on. But if you or a loved one start sending the mortgage payment to your favorite televangelist or spending the food budget on the Home Shopping Network, you might want to consult your doctor. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800.272.3900 or www.alz.org.