Put money in thy purse: Alzheimer’s and Money Problems

money alzYour aging parent no longer has his mind on his money or his money on his mind. Trouble handling finances may be one of the first signs that he (or she) has Alzheimer’s disease, but it isn’t necessarily one that is easy to spot. In fact, as the disease progresses, and your aged P. finds it increasingly difficult to balance their checkbook or keeps forgetting to pay the bills, they are likely to hide these shortcomings from you or seem afraid or worried when discussing money – either out of embarrassment or fear of losing their independence, or both. Thus, the first step a caregiver must take is to watch for signs of money issues.

Warnings signs of Alzheimer’s disease-related money problems

·         Difficulty counting change, paying for a purchase, calculating tips, balancing a checkbook, or understanding a bank statement.

·         Unpaid or unopened bills.

·         Many new purchases on a credit card bills.

·         Peculiar new merchandise.

·         Your parent’s bank account is missing money.

Once it has been established that mental decline is impairing the ability of the Aged to remain in control of his or her finances, you may take over for them while still providing them with a semblance of independence. In order to accomplish that, you can do the following:

·         Give them small amounts of cash or voided checks for them to carry.

·         Reduce the spending limit on a credit card – or cancel it altogether.

·         Tell your parent it is important to learn about finances, with his or her help.

Protecting your parent against fraud

Elderly people, whether or not they have Alzheimer’s disease, are a common target of identity theft, get-rich-quick offers, insurance scams, healthcare scams, and downright threats. A mentally ill person and his money are soon parted, by those and other means. Keep an eye out for these signs of fraud:

·         Signatures on checks or other documents that don’t look resemble your parent’s signature. 

·         Your parent’s will has been changed without permission. 

·         Your parent’s home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it. 

·         Your parent has signed legal documents (will, power of attorney, or joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers meant. 

·         Things that belong to you or your parent are missing from the home.

 Keeping it legal

In order to check how your parent is doing financially, a family member or trustee – that is, an individual holding title to property and/or funds for the person – should go through bank statements and other financial records every month. Other legal documents may be needed, such as:

·         Durable Power of Attorney

Gives you power to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of your parent.

·         Will

States how you parent wants his or her property and money to be divided.

·         Living Trust

Tells the aforementioned trustee how to distribute your parent’s property and money.


Money talks and you-know-what runs a marathon

In addition to legal authorization, the caregiver must handle the aged parent’s finances with dignity and respect. Your father or mother may have Alzheimer’s disease, but they are not a boy to whom you give an allowance, or a spoiled girl from whom you take a credit card away. Forceful action should be used when all other options have been exhausted, and only then. So do not immediately go behind their backs or over their heads. There might and probably will come a time when your parent won’t be able to tell U.S. currency from Monopoly money, but as long as they can, they should be involved in the decision-making process; after all, it’s their own financial future you’re talking about. Their opinion, insofar as it has not been tainted by cognitive deterioration should be respected, as should be their original wishes even long after the damage has been done.