Your once-sharp loved one now struggles to count change correctly and balance a checkbook. There’s a pile of unopened bills on the counter. Problems handling finances can be an initial sign of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Difficulty managing money is just one of the changes the disease brings about in a person’s life, but it can cause significant problems. At first there might not be too much trouble. But as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, even someone savvy at figuring dollars and cents can have problems like those above. Other warning signs may include:
Not being able to understand a bank statement.
Not paying bills.
Having a lot of new purchases on a credit card bill.
Having money missing from accounts.
Worse yet, a decline in the ability to manage money doesn’t just make it difficult to perform everyday tasks independently. People who have Alzheimer’s disease can also be victims of fraud or financial abuse.
HOW TO HELP.
Families of people with Alzheimer’s disease often must face challenges together. Helping a loved one handle finances may be one of those challenges.
Consider these suggestions:
Plan ahead. People who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are often encouraged to get their financial affairs in order as soon as they can. They can make legal arrangements to have a family member or trustee handle their finances for them. One way is through a durable power of attorney for finances. Such a document allows your loved one to name someone to make financial decisions on his or her behalf. An attorney can tell you more about this.
Offer help. If you think your loved one is starting to have trouble managing money, you might also try talking about your concerns. Find a gentle way to bring it up.
For example, you might offer to check your loved one’s bank statements and other records. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s disease agree to let their loved ones give them small amounts of cash to have on hand. Or they may decide to lower the spending limit on credit cards or close the credit card accounts.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. You can call the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center at 1-800-438-4380 to learn how to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Or visit the center online at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.
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