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Money Worries

Money is becoming a problem in the household I share with My Loved One and the loathed Ms Alzheimers.

Don’t squirm. This is not a fundraising appeal. I have worked flat out all my adult life often doing several jobs at once, lived within my income and always saved a bit. MLO has worked just as hard, for many years as a mind-blowingly efficient househusband between bouts of employment as an education administrator. In latter years he has also run my writing business – doing just about everything except the writing although he’s now fully retired from it, thanks to Ms A. The result of all this endeavour is that we can pay our bills and afford the occasional take away curry. We’re not wealthy (whatever that means) but there’s certainly no need to pass the hat round.

No. Our money worries relate to something else.  MLO is finding it increasingly difficult to manage it – whether it’s the notes and coins in his pocket or funds in the bank. When we went to Malaysia in March he bought some ringgets in advance – as you do. It was a wad of notes which we put carefully in one of the pockets of his man-bag. For most of the first week we were away he told me several times a day that he was very worried because he’d lost that money or perhaps left it at home. Each time he mentioned it, I showed him where it was.  It was a conversation that went round and round like a stuck gramophone record. Back in blighty we’ve had exactly the same issue with the little bank bag of coins he carries with him –  he frets continuously that he’s lost it. He hasn’t.

We’ve always had separate bank accounts –  plus one joint one which pays for household stuff, now entirely managed online by me. This means that I don’t know – and have never cared as long as there was enough day-to-day money for what we needed or wanted to do – the details of his savings accounts, ISAs and so on. Well, assisted by our very practical elder son, we have now been through all the muddled files. And I’ve lost count of the number of accounts we’ve found with small forgotten sums in them. We’ve closed most of them now and tided everything up. MLO, meanwhile. just looks on, bemusedly saying things like “Well, I didn’t know I’d got that” as if it were someone else’s affairs – which I suppose in a way it is. The man who only two or three years ago had impeccably orderly paperwork (he’s never really trusted online banking) which told him, literally, to the penny exactly what was where, has gone. In his place is a financially helpless old chap with Ms A on his shoulder sneering. And I try to shake my fist at her rather than breaking down and howling at the misery of it.  I don’t always succeed

Not, obviously that this is all bad. It’s much better to find little bits of money you didn’t know you had than it is to uncover the horror of debt you weren’t aware of. Always look on the bright side. Or try to.

When I was a child we knew several old ladies who “went funny in the head”. Then, eventually, when their relations, had to sort out the house, it was quite common to find 100s of pounds hidden away and forgotten – like squirrels with their acorns. Well a couple of generations later, we all use cash much less but money is still something which dogs a diseased mind. I suppose it’s because we were taught from infancy that it is very important and must be kept carefully and safely. These days there are debit and credit card issues too. MLO keeps his in a wallet in his man- bag (I could write a whole blog about that bag – and perhaps I will) frequently telling me in a panicky voice that he’s lost this card or that. Then I look and find it in the accustomed place. Another worry dispelled – for half an hour, anyway.

It’s the stress and anxiety which worrying about all this causes him which is the saddest thing. Money worries of any sort are deeply debilitating.  I have activated the Enduring Power of Attorney (now known as a Lasting Power of Attorney or LPA) which MLO signed in the early 1990s and have a stash of certified copies ready to register with banks. I’m reluctant, though, to take away from MLO all control over his money until I really have to. He’s been grown up for a long time and I have to maintain the illusion for as long as possible. To do otherwise is to hammer yet one more nail into the coffin containing his independence. Difficult balance.



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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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