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Helping Persons with Dementia with Personal Finance

Did you know?

When a person with dementia is no longer able to manage money well, his caregiver should consider giving him some petty cash or voided checks to have available. This is a way to allow the person with dementia to feel responsible and independent, while the caregiver is ensured that bills are getting paid.

Warning Signs of Trouble With Finances

People with dementia often have increasing difficultly managing their personal finances. This is often among the first signs noticed by caregivers that something is wrong. Early in the disease, people with dementia may have trouble or need more time than usual coming up with the proper amount of money when out at a restaurant or at a store. As mental abilities further decline, they may not remember whether or not bills have been paid or may end up writing the same check multiple times, losing payments, or forgetting to pay bills at all.

Suggestions for Caregivers

Caregivers should begin organizing and preparing their loved one’s finances, whether or not they live with the person with dementia. As part of this process, it is important for caregivers to discuss this financial management with their loved ones during the earliest stages of dementia. Someone in the earlier stages of dementia may be able to help you plan, explaining his or her wishes or helping you understand bank accounts and bill-pay systems. Try these steps to begin taking responsibility for your loved one’s finances:

  • Gather important financial documents concerning investments (deeds, titles, stocks, bonds, etc.), benefits (pension, IRA accounts, insurance, Social Security, etc.), and expenses (bank accounts, monthly and other bills, etc.), as well as legal documents such as wills or durable powers of attorney.
  • Consider the costs that will be involved in caring for your loved one, which may include managing their bills, taxes, investments, and benefits. The Alzheimer’s Association and National Alliance for Caregiving found that the average costs for providing care were $219 per month (AA, 2009). Common expenses to plan for include medical costs related to dementia, costs of other medical conditions including future conditions, medications, caregiving supplies, and care or residential services. Also, consider what additional costs you might incur and how to balance these expenses, especially if your loved one lives with you.
  • Talk with a financial advisor about how you can best put finances in order. Local branches of the Alzheimer’s Association or Area Agencies on Aging can often put you in touch with a financial planner who can advise you about the various federal, state, and community resources that are available to help you finance the care for your loved one. Furthermore, an advisor can also help you determine if you are eligible for any of tax benefits or tax deductions that are available to many caregivers.

View References

Alzheimer’s Association. 2009 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Available at: http://www.alz.org/living_with_alzheimers_wandering_behaviors.asp. Retrieved March 27, 2009.

Resources

Money Matters: Helping the Person with Dementia Settle Financial Issues

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This brochure discusses the process of financial management, from getting started to identifying expenses and potential sources for covering these costs.

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Resource List: Legal and Financial Issues

Source: National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Description: This resource list contains information about various organizations, brochures, and literature that are available to caregivers needing assistance with legal and financial matters.

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Fact Sheet: Planning Ahead for Long-Term Dementia Care Expenses

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This fact sheet provides points to consider when planning for your loved one's financial future and outlines some of the documents and resources that are useful in financial planning.

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