When a senior starts to lose their mental facilities, their financial skills and ability to drive are often the first to go. Their skills peak in their 50s and then go downhill.
They are normally in charge of their own finances paying their bills and investing their money without any oversight.
Sometimes the decline can be fast or it can be slow. However, her doctor and other healthcare professionals have a series of tests they can use to determine the decline. Often Mom's tax preparer will be the first to know of the decline.
The mental decline means they can't pay their bills or invest their money. They are easy prey for scammers, unscrupulous help, helpful neighbors and even potential brides or roommates. They make bad financial decisions. They take out reverse mortgages, buy indexed annuities and invest in bonds with Nigerian scammers.
As a child, how and when to step is a difficult decision. It is very difficult to both understand the timing and to handle the parent.
If you can, here is what to do.
First, simplify things so they are easy to track, control and understand. One bank account and one custodial account.
Second, advance planning is better than crisis reaction every time.
Third, you can take control of Mom's finances with access to her accounts online and a Power of Attorney.
Fifth, and the most drastic move which can be traumatic, difficult and costly, is the Conservatorship. In this case, the child would apply to the Court to be appointed as Conservator and have the formal power to make decisions for Mom