53, Oxford

Sophie’s mother is 87 and has become increasingly forgetful over the last ten years. Sophie began to help run her finances.

"My mother was always very sharp financially, very aware of what she should do about money. So she would know about the latest ISAs and she bought shares she was interested in. She’s a very intelligent woman.

She worked until she was into her 70s, doing various part-time jobs, and there was money coming in from various sources. She had sensible and clear financial arrangements, which she has now forgotten.

A gradual decline

It’s very hard to tell when someone’s mind isn’t working as well as it was. You don’t want to believe it is happening. Ten years ago she was fine. But very gradually, she became less sharp and more forgetful and then she started getting in a panic about her finances, particularly about her tax – she worried about getting her paperwork ready.  So I suggested that we give her a hand.

I’d never had to deal with that sort of thing and found it quite daunting, but actually it’s fine. The local Tax Office are incredibly helpful and the helplines are really good. The most difficult part for me isn’t filling in the forms, it was finding the information. If it’s your own affairs, you know what you’re looking for. When it’s someone else, you don’t. Her filing system is a bit random, but it made sense to her – I’m the same myself!

She found it horrible having someone asking all these questions about her money and to begin with it was very difficult. It is really, really hard to say, ‘You’re not coping,’ particularly for a child to their parent – you are reversing the natural order of things. She found it quite frightening, and she still wants to feel she’s in control of her own affairs, which is quite right.

Power of attorney 

My mum had signed the papers to give me power of attorney, but hadn’t registered it.

We wrote to all the organisations that were receiving or sending her money, saying, ‘My daughter is now dealing with my financial affairs, can you please copy her in on your letters.’ Some agreed, some didn’t, but it did make it easier for my mum and me to cope. We are now registering the Lasting Power of Attorney.

She’s very prone to answer any begging letter that comes through the letterbox. Years ago she joined the Charity Aid Foundation, which means she uses a special chequebook to write cheques to charities, and that works really well because there’s a record of it and you get sent a statement. But she still forgets that she’s given something and will send extra cheques from her bank account. It’s completely right that she should give money to charity, but she needs to keep enough for herself!

"My advice to other people in my generation is to set up Power of Attorney now to make things easier for your children when the time comes."

It isn’t easy. My advice to other people in my generation is to set up Lasting Power of Attorney now to make things easier for your children when the time comes."

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 January 2015
Next review due: 31 December 2016