Managing Alzheimer’s Impact on Finances
As Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses progress, many facets of daily living become more difficult. Everyday tasks an individual routinely performed for decades can suddenly become challenging. That includes managing finances.
Someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may still be able to continue handling some financial responsibilities, such as paying bills or writing checks, but have trouble with more complicated tasks such as balancing a checkbook or reviewing bank statements. Basic financial tasks become even more challenging for the person as the disease progresses, and eventually someone else will need to oversee them.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), warning signs to watch for include:
- Trouble paying for a purchase or counting change
- Difficulty understanding a bank statement or balancing a checkbook
- Unpaid or unopened bills
- Lots of new purchases on a credit card bill
- Strange new merchandise
- Money missing from the person’s bank account
NIA recommends having a family member or trustee (someone who holds title to property and/or funds for the person) check bank statements and other financial records monthly to make sure the individual living with Alzheimer’s is doing ok and step in if there are serious concerns to ensure the person is protected.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT MONEY
Losing control of the ability to manage finances is also a loss of independence for many individuals—some may even try to hide financial problems out of fear of having to relinquish that self-sufficiency. They may feel suspicious or resentful of another person trying to take that control away from them, even if it’s a trusted loved one acting in the person’s best interests.
To help the individual living with Alzheimer’s retain the feeling of independence, while still protecting their finances, consider the following tips:
- Lower spending limits on credits cards or cancelling them entirely
- Provide dummy or voided checks
- Give the person a small cash allowance
If it becomes necessary to take over the person’s finances, take every possible measure to do so in a sensitive manner that treats the person with respect and dignity.
Have questions or need additional information about this topic? Connect with the AFA Helpline.