People suffering from dementia often experience tremendous difficulty managing their own finances. This can manifest itself in simple forgetfulness, like neglecting to pay a bill on time, overspending on unnecessary or frivolous items, or through poor spending or investment decision. Patients with dementia are also at risk from fraudsters who’d look to capitalize off their incapacitation.
So what can you do to protect your loved ones with dementia from the worst effects of their own disease? In our last post we talked a bit about the legal remedies available, from durable power of attorneys to conservatorships. In this post, we’ll give you a few practical tips you can use to help your impaired loved one manage their financial lives.
Day-to-Day Financial Management
Helping a loved one with dementia manage their day-to-day finances is really no different than managing your own. It’s all about tracking what comes in and what goes out.
Create a Bill Pay System
Leaving a person with dementia to pay their own bills is just asking for trouble. Maybe it won’t be a problem today, but it’s bound to be a problem down the road. So it’s best to set up a bill payment system now, so you can prevent unraveling a bunch of problems later.
It might be as easy as sitting down with your loved one once or twice a month to help them pay your bills. This will ensure nothing gets overlooked and that you both can learn the process together. Then as their condition worsens, you’ll be able to confidently take full control.
Monitor Banking Activity
If your loved one is comfortable with the idea, you could monitor deposits, withdrawals, and purchases to keep an eye out for any irregularities. This simple task could serve as an important second set of eyes for a loved one who might be concerned about their own ability to manage day-to-day financial decisions.
Set Transaction Limits
Dementia patients can be at risk with credit cards because they offer nearly unlimited access to funds. This could spell trouble for someone who might forget what purchases they’ve recently made or struggle with making smart financial decisions. To mitigate this risk, you might consider canceling the patients credit cards altogether, or at the very least, limiting the available balance.
Some cards even offer transaction limits you can set to ensure that your loved one doesn’t get in over their heads. Contact your loved one’s financial institution for more information.
Give Them Some Control
Many adults will resist the idea of losing complete control over their spending, and if you stop to think for a moment, this is perfectly understandable. They’ve spent their entire lives making these decisions for themselves. So to give that up is a big loss of autonomy they just might not be ready for.
To help with this, you might consider giving your loved one a cash budget they can use for any kind of purchase they like. This will help to preserve their sense of control over their lives without risking their overall financial health.
Empathy is Important
If you’re trying to help your loved one manage their finances in the wake of a dementia diagnosis, you could be facing a rough road. There’s a good chance you’ll meet some resistance, even though you’re only trying to help.
It’s important in these situations to be empathetic towards your loved ones. It’s likely that they’re terrified about what may be to come and trying hard to maintain some sense or normalcy through it all.
But, by protecting your loved one’s finances, you’re also protecting their future. So you may need to be more nosy that you normally are. And you may need to have a tough talk or two with your loved one, but in the end, they’ll be better off for it.