By Neal St. Anthony
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
Margaret Paddock, who runs the Twin Cities private client wealth management business for U.S. Bank, learned early about financial management.
Born in Poland, she moved to the Chicago area as an infant. Paddock’s father left when she was 13 and her sister was 11. Her mother took a low-pay retail position, and Paddock worked her way through high school and college as a bank teller.
At age 53, Paddock’s mother was diagnosed with dementia and was fleeced by a financial scam artist who took her life savings of $30,000. She had to sell her home. Paddock, then the working mother of two children, brought her mother into her home and took over her affairs.
Q: How did you get into your career?
A: By accident. I started as a bank teller in high school and continued into college. I worked my way up. I enjoyed the customer interaction and being of service. As a first-generation immigrant, I feel my professional success came from a strong work ethic and belief that we are only bound by the limitations we set on ourselves. Anything is possible.
Q: Your father left your family when you were young and your mom at 35 took a low-pay retail job. You and your sister went to work. And that was only the beginning of tough times, correct?
A: At 53, my mother was diagnosed with Frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Frontotemporal dementia. Essentially, her brain was dying from front to back. I was 30 when mom was diagnosed. My sister was 28. Both of us with young children. My mother was single and making no more than $30,000 a year. Due to her condition, she lost her job.
She then lost her home and moved in with me. I learned how to navigate the Medicaid system as we waited for disability benefits to cover her medical costs. As her disease advanced, I found a United Way-funded agency called Brightside Adult Day Care. It cost next-to-nothing. And I couldn’t afford to pay much. During the day, I would drop my children off at school, mom off at day care and go to work. When she needed round-the-clock care, my sister and I made the tough decision to place her in a nursing home … for the last 13 years. She has not recognized my sister or me for eight years.
Q: Did managing your mother’s affairs and assisting her inform your decision to help people manage their money?
A: Not initially. It has influenced my career path and my passion for (financial) advising. It taught me that we all tend to put things off; important things that we know we should do, mean to do, but don’t. I am able to offer my personal family story in order to create a sense of urgency for our clients. The best time to have any kind of insurance, including long-term care, is the day before you need it.
Q: What advice do you have for people with aging parents who are subject to physical and mental deterioration?
A: If your parents are not financially able to cover extended disability, I would encourage them to find a trusted adviser to explore the full range of long-term care options. There are a lot of affordable options. It’s easy to customize what you can afford. I also recommend that children be added to their parent’s bank accounts and get to know their local branch staff. They can alert you if there are financial issues or risks like fraud. Due to privacy laws, if you’re not on your parent’s account, banks cannot divulge any information. Alternatively, once added to the accounts, you can easily step in to cover their financial affairs if your parents become a concern.
Q: Your business focuses on high-net-worth families, correct?
A: Yes, some of our clients have enough assets to cover this type of long-term disability. Even those that do may choose long-term care insurance so that an illness does not erode their assets.
Q: Are the rest of us in a different boat with different alternatives or fewer alternatives for dealing with parents with dementia?
A: There are support options for those with limited means. It just takes time to research agencies that are subsidized either privately or publicly that serve and support families dealing with these issues and can provide adult day care-to-medical care and information on dementia. I encourage everyone to have an open conversation with their financial adviser.
Q: Any regrets about how you handled your mother’s situation?
A: I should have pushed the long-term care issue with my mother. Knowing she had no means of financial support, she needed it. We lost her, mentally, at such a young age. She has four beautiful grandchildren that missed having her as a grandmother. I often hear others complain about their parents and remind them how lucky they are to have them.