Today, we’re talking about managing the mail for a parent with dementia.
In a nutshell, get to the mail first, before your loved one with dementia has a chance to get to it.
That’s the 15th of my 19 suggestions that I have listed in the freebie below. You can get my list of 19 suggestions by signing up for it in the box below. I’ll mention my 16th suggestion in a little bit.
If you have control, or at least a good handle, on the mail, you will lessen the chances of crazy things going on.
Things like –
Mail that gets thrown away
Mail that gets stuffed into miscellaneous drawers never to be seen for ages
A mountain of magazines
One day, 2 of the same National Geographic magazines were in the mail. One addressed to my mom and one to my dad. Both were active subscriptions.
This was just the tip of the iceberg.
I discovered that every time Mom got a renewal notice, she would renew. Regardless of whether it was time to renew.
Or, she’d fill out the little slip that comes in the magazines and send those in. Resulting in more magazines!
I knew then, it was time to get to the mail before my mom got to it.
How I Managed the mail of my loved one with dementia
So, here’s what I did.
I got to know approximately when the mail person would deliver mail. As soon as it was placed in the mailbox, I would grab it. Note–if you’re a first time reader & aren’t familiar with my back story, I moved home to be the caregiver for my mom who had Mild Cognitive Impairment.
I sorted through the mail, taking out the bills and donation requests. Mom was always sending checks off for donations to charities as well. Now, mind you – I didn’t stop her from sending the checks, I just watched over them to make sure she donated once a year.
For the magazines, I tore off the plastic wrap that covered the magazine because it usually contained a renewal notice. I also turned the magazine upside down and shook it hoping to get those little renewal cards & magazine sign-up slips to fall out so I could throw them away.
I started keeping a list of Mom’s magazines, when she paid for them and when they were to be renewed. Keeping the abilities of your loved one in mind, I guided Mom in how to write out the checks up until the point where it was just too hard for her to write.
My mom enjoyed her magazines and reading the local newspaper. I don’t know if she could actually comprehend the articles but I know she enjoyed looking at them. It didn’t matter if she’d already “read” them, each time she looked at them was the first time for her.
How do I protect my parent’s finances with dementia?
As far as the monthly bills, when I got to the mail first I would put any bills on the stairway to take upstairs. If Mom got to the mail first, I would gently tell her that I would write the checks for those bills. You might think that all of this sounds underhanded and sneaky, and in some ways it is, but understand, you are protecting your loved one’s assets.
Early on in Mom’s memory loss journey she had me added to her monthly accounts as an authorized representative. Through the online banking app we were able to set up monthly billing for most of her accounts. So my 16th suggestion is to set up Auto Pay for utility bills and as many other bills as you can. This will definitely lessen the likelihood that a bill will be lost or go unpaid.
We also had 2 checking accounts set up, one for Mom with a small balance that she could use and the other to handle everything else.
How do I forward my parent’s mail?
If you live out of town away from your loved one with dementia, I’d be very careful about forwarding your loved one’s mail and do your due diligence researching whether or not this would be the right thing to do.
You will want to check with Medicare and the Social Security Administration to see what the requirements are as changing the address may have negative effects.
If there is a caregiver that comes into the house or a home health aide, you might be able to list that as one of the requested duties. Or if there is a trusted neighbor, that person could collect the daily mail for you.
Another option could be a concierge service that you could hire to come to the house and collect mail each day.