One of the first early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline is losing the ability to manage finances. This can lead to many challenges for caregivers and senior loved ones, which is why advance planning is so crucial.
A Place for Mom expert and geriatric psychologist, Dr. Melissa Henston, states, “It’s often hard for parents to admit that they need help, and no one wants to lose their independence. However, daily living tasks and money management sometimes get to be too much as we age and it’s important for family members and loved ones to step up and address the problem when this happens — even if it is painful. The problems will not go away and usually need to be addressed in a timely manner.”
Early Warning Signs That a Parent With Alzheimer’s Needs Help Managing Finances
Look for bills stacking up and unopened mail and be aware of calls from collection agencies or credit card companies looking to collect missed payments.
Here are a few other tell-tale signs:
- Complaints that they suddenly don’t have enough money
- Home repairs are suffering or are neglected
- Sudden expensive purchases that don’t seem to fit your parent’s normal spending habits
- They become victim to elder fraud or financial scams
- They seem mentally or physically unable to keep up with daily living tasks
For more information, read about other warning signs that a parent with Alzheimer’s needs help with finances to learn when it’s time for an intervention.
Tips for Managing Finances for a Parent With Alzheimer’s
Having a financial discussion with aging parents to help them get their affairs in order may be necessary to get their finances back on track. Even if they have properly prepared for their retirement, it’s important to reevaluate and get finances back on track if there are signs they can no longer handle money-management.
1. Get Organized
All the legal documents surrounding your parent with Alzheimer’s or senior loved one’s estate means you’ll need to gather a lot of information and get organized. Here is the information you’ll need:
- Bank accounts
- Estate documents
- Insurance policies
- Marriage license
- Passwords and usernames
- Personal financial statements to account for assets and debt and spending habits
- Proof of ownership (for example, registration and title)
- Retirement accounts
It’s important to keep the information in a secure location that’s easily accessible, like a safe or safety deposit box. Make sure a few trusted family members have access to the information so that everyone can stay organized when decisions have to be made quickly and emotions are heightened.
2. Prepare Legal Documents
Getting legal documents in order, ideally, when your loved one is still mentally and physically able, will not only help to give your parent with Alzheimer’s their end-of-life wishes but will also be crucial to protecting their assets and estate. Without these documents, families could accumulate significant costs while navigating the courts and family relationships could become turbulent if disagreements arise regarding care for loved ones. These key documents, prepared correctly, can be like gifts to your family.
Important legal documents include:
- Advanced directives, such as a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will
- The durable power of attorney for finances where someone will have to be named as the legal authority to manage the property
- Will, where someone will need to be appointed to serve as executor
3. Review Documents and Information Regularly
It’s important to make sure financial and life documents are kept up-to-date yearly or for major life events. Visits are a great time to review your parent with Alzheimer’s or senior loved one’s financial estate and plans. Personal preferences may change over the years, so it’s important to revisit your loved one’s plans.
Open communication with a plan will help keep everything running smoothly when emotions are running high.
4. Spend Time Performing Financial Health Checkups
Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Mainly because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts from their investment portfolios, retirement planning and years spent in the workforce. Performing a financial health checkup can help protect your parent with Alzheimer’s from identity fraud.
5. Use the Expertise of a Professional Advisor or Fiduciary
Many families find it useful to tap into the expertise of a professional financial advisor or fiduciary. An unbiased third party who is an expert in finance can help answer questions, get affairs in order and plan for a successful future and protection of assets.
Savvy financial planning and taking measure to prevent financial mistakes will not only help give your family and parent with Alzheimer’s a peace of mind, it will also help protect financial assets and property.
Have you had to manage finances for a parent with Alzheimer’s? What was your experience like and do you have any tips to share? We’d like to hear your stories and suggestions in the comments below.