Saturday, September 17

Managing Money While Living with Alzheimer's

$100 bill
Money management problems for people with Alzheimer's are a fact of life. Learn how to spot them, what steps to take, and how to protect your loved ones from becoming victims of scams or financial abuse.

Early on, a person with Alzheimer's may be able to perform basic tasks, such as paying bills, but he or she is likely to have problems with more complicated tasks, such as balancing a checkbook or check-register. As the disease gets worse, the person may try to hide financial problems to protect his or her independence. Or, the person may not realize that he or she is losing the ability to handle money matters.

Signs of Money Problems

Look for signs of money problems such as trouble counting change, paying for a purchase, calculating a tip, balancing a checkbook, or understanding a bank statement. The person may be afraid or worried when he or she talks about money. You may also find:
  • Unpaid and unopened bills
  • Lots of new purchases on a credit card bill
  • Strange new merchandise
  • Money missing from the person's bank account
A family member or trustee (someone who holds title to property and/or funds for the person) should check bank statements and other financial records each month to see how the person with Alzheimer's disease is doing and step in if there are serious concerns. This can protect the person from becoming a victim of financial abuse or fraud.

Take Steps Early

Many older adults will be suspicious of attempts to take over their financial affairs. You can help the person with Alzheimer's feel independent by:
  • Giving him or her small amounts of cash or voided checks to have on hand
  • Minimizing the spending limit on credit cards or having the cards cancelled
  • Telling the person that it is important to learn about finances, with his or her help
To prevent serious problems, you may have to take charge of the person's financial affairs through legal arrangements. It's important to handle the transfer of financial authority with respect and understanding.

You can get consent to manage the person's finances via a durable power of attorney for finances, preferably while the person can still understand and approve the arrangement. You can also ensure that the person finalizes trusts and estate arrangements.

Guard Against Financial Abuse and Fraud

People with Alzheimer's may be victims of financial abuse or scams by dishonest people. Sometimes, the person behind the scam is a "friend" or family member. Telephone, e-mail, or in-person scams can take many forms, such as:
  • Identity theft
  • Get-rich-quick offers
  • Phony offers of prizes or home or auto repairs
  • Insurance scams
  • Health scams such as ads for unproven memory aids
  • Threats
Look for signs that the person with Alzheimer's may be a victim of financial abuse or fraud:
  • Signatures on checks or other papers don't look like the person's signature.
  • The person's will has been changed without permission.
  • The person's home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it.
  • The person has signed legal papers (such as a will, power of attorney, or joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers mean.
  • Things that belong to you or the person with Alzheimer's, such as clothes or jewelry, are missing from the home.
If you think a person with Alzheimer's may be the victim of a scam, contact your local police department. You can also contact the State consumer protection office or Area Agency on Aging office.


The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. The Center offers information and publications for families, caregivers, and professionals about Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive changes.

SOURCE: National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health


  1. My mother-in-law has not formally been diagnosed as having Alzheimers. Therein lies the problem. She currently takes medication for the disease, but she refuses to have tests done to confirm. She has turned on her only son and now listens to "friends" that have convinced her that her son is out to hurt her and take her money. These "friends" have gotten close since she came into a lot of money after the death of her husband. These "friends" have gotten her to put their names on her accounts and possible insurance policies. Tehy have also gotten her to stop going to her Doctor. I have tried to have Senior Services intervein, but have been told that "If she hasn't bee declaired incompetent, then it's her money and she can do whatever she wants." My husband and I afraid that by the time she needs care, the money will be long gone. Watch out for "Friends". They will stab you in the back and take advantage of the elderly.

    1. Sorry to hear this. Is it possible to see a lawyer to get control? Since she is on meds for the disease perhaps a judge will give your husband power of attorney. It's a long shot.

    2. If you consider this to actually be a problem then your husband (her son) MUST step in and be as aggressive at protecting his mother as the 'friends' are who are trying to scam her.

      First go to her house and physically take away all access to 'money'. (credit cards, checks etc) Then begin regaining control by visiting the banks and any other financial companies to remove the 'friends' from any and all financial access. Then begin managing her affairs for her.

      Is this difficult? YES!!!
      Emotional? YES!!!
      Will you get resistance from the 'friends' and family? ABSOLUTELY!!!
      Will they make YOU feel like the money grabbing thief? OF COURSE!!!
      Might regaining control require a lawyer and incur legal fees and hassles? I GUARANTEE IT!!

      But if her own son wont protect her, then who will?

      If you cant (or dont want to) fight for her financial security then WALK AWAY. Do not look back, do not worry about her future, leave it all in the hands of her 'friends'.

  2. Is Helping Hand a good option for our mother's financial management of her memory care facility cost and expenses?

    1. What is Helping Hand, where are you, etc. Nobody can respond to a vague post like this. Remember, the world goes on these pages, not just your neighbors.

  3. Oddly enough I find the worst offender for taking advantage of the elderly is AARP. My mother-in-law has a paid up membership for AARP until 2019 because they keep sending her a notice to update her card. Other magazines are just as guilty, her Readers Digest and Consumer Reports are good until 2018. They send notices that sound like their subscription has expired and it hasn't.

    1. Renewing subscriptions just because a notice (reminder?) has come in the mail? Read the above article. This is an early sign of poor financial management!

      Have you looked at her finances lately? (checking account activity? credit card statements?) You need to! I bet there are many other surprises that you have yet to discover.

      Looking over her shoulder is not the same as taking away control (although that might happen eventually) All you are doing is helping to keep her safe.

      If you are not looking out for her, then others will certainly spot her as a target. (See the posting above about a person who is being scammed) By the time you 'discover' the problem it may be too late.

    2. most people don't keep track of subscriptions, mman. Me and my wife are perfectly sane and we both have no real idea of when a subscription will end. Rest assured, when it's really about to, there will be a big notice on the last issue with a renew card. Throw away all other mail regarding such special offers. Advice for all people, not just dementia affected individuals.


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