Housing Dictatorship

Dear Annie: I just moved into a new apartment complex and went to my first open board meeting. I am wondering whether I moved into a dictatorship. The board has only two of these meetings per year, and we were told we could speak for only three minutes. One resident asked why the manager hadn’t fulfilled his obligation as stated in the guidelines that are given to you when you move in. Immediately, the president got red in the face and said, “We will not hear of any talk like that.” Here I thought an open meeting meant you could ask questions, but evidently that’s not the case here. I believe my stay will be short-lived. Annie, how would you have handled that situation? — Bewildered

Dear Bewildered: Don’t start packing just yet. Fortunately, your apartment complex doesn’t exist as its own separate state, and the building president doesn’t get to impose whatever laws he or she wants. You have rights as a tenant. Housing laws vary by state. The web is a great starting point for finding information and resources. Knowledge is power.

Dear Annie: Recently, you responded to a letter from “Sally,” who wrote that her husband, in his mid-80s, has become more controlling about money since their move to a senior residence. Though your advice to have a heart-to-heart with him was good, I would like to suggest an explanation for his behavior: dementia.

I suspected my husband was showing signs of dementia, but I brushed it off. What really showed me that something was amiss was when he started demonstrating paranoia toward our finances and my handling of them. We had always — over 38 years of marriage — blended our money. Suddenly, he was putting his Social Security money into an account in only his name and calling it “his money.”

I suggested we both go get tested for dementia. He was in his mid-60s, and I was probably 61 at the time. He thought I was the one with the thinking problem. It turned out he did have dementia, and his could not be cured. But many dementia-like symptoms are actually caused by something that can be cured or fixed (vitamin deficiency, drug side effects, hearing loss, depression, etc.). It is good to get tested often to catch it early so that a temporary dementia can be fixed and a long-term dementia, such as Lewy body dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, can be slowed — or at least you can get your affairs in order and turn the finances over to the more capable partner.

If the illness is not caught early, a lot of poor decisions can be made that have lasting effects. Though Sally may just be dealing with a husband adjusting to a new home with higher rent, it would be good, considering their age, for both of them to be tested. Procrastination and denial could have devastating effects on their financial future. — Speaking From Experience

Dear Speaking From Experience: You’ve raised a great point. I’ve passed your letter along to Sally, and I encourage any readers who are on the fence about getting tested to do so. For more information on getting tested for Alzheimer’s and dementia, talk to your doctor or call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline, at 800-272-3900.

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