How to Handle Money When Someone Has Dementia

Written by Karen Bryan

Dementia can originate due to multiple factors such as age, Alzheimer’s, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, side effects of prescription drugs, an overactive thyroid, depression etc. Whatever the cause or origin might be, it’s not really a disease but rather a symptom that something is affecting one’s ability to function normally in daily life. The effects of dementia usually include memory loss, impairment of verbal and written communicative abilities, inability to focus, impaired judgment and reasoning and changes in perception of the world from a visual and conceptual perspective.

Handling Money and Dementia Together is a Bad Idea

Whatever your cause for developing signs of dementia might be, the fact is that it’s a bad idea to try and handle money when you are suffering from its effects. The same goes for someone you know or someone close to you as well. It isn’t uncommon for people with dementia to accuse others of stealing money because they cannot explain how they lost it. This would of course, lead to frictions with others and subsequent problems.

If the person in question happens to be in a position that requires him/her to be financially responsible for a business or a family, it’s time for that person to step down and hand over the responsibilities to someone more capable, because dementia and monetary responsibilities just don’t go together. Convincing them of that however, is a much bigger problem if it doesn’t happen on its own. The general idea is to call a family or business meeting and let them know about the situation gently, supported by hard facts. Dementia often makes people extraordinarily suspicious of others, so having tangible proof is often a good way to convince them that it’s not a conspiracy.

Losing Cash and How to Handle It

This is an issue particularly faced by older generations because they feel more confident with cash in their pocket than they do with plastic money. Unfortunately, they often end up losing the entire wallet/purse and even the memory of how and where they lost it. If you or anyone you know is suffering from similar issues, try the following methods to handle the situation.

  1. In spite of it not being the person’s fault, people with dementia suffer from guilt, anxiety and suspicion each time they lose something. To help ease the immediate impact, keep one or multiple purses/wallets with money in them at a known and established “safe place.” The fact that the person in question knows where to find some money if they lose what they have with them at that moment will reassure them.

  2. The objective of having money in the wallet is more about reassurance than the value really, so make sure that the wallets/purses are filled with notes and coins of smaller value. This will lessen the financial impact of losing money.

  3. If the person is old and affected enough that he/she cannot go outside the property on his/her own, you can even replace original money with play money. This will prevent the loss of money completely, but remember that this is only meant for very old people or people who have severe impairment and do not generally go unassisted out of their homes.

Take Care of Needs for Cash

The truth is that the less cash people with dementia have with them at home or outside home, the better it is for them. However, the only way to do that would be by making sure they don’t have much need for cash anymore to begin with. In order for that to happen, all bills and payments should be made electronically by someone in charge of the financials. The same goes for benefits, pensions, etc. as well; the money goes directly into the bank, instead of receiving a cheque via mail. If there are any cheques though, it should be deposited at the bank as soon as possible by the person in charge. They might still need cash to just live in the way that they want to, but it should never be too much money. Also, it won’t cause them too much anxiety if they end up losing it, because they know that all the essentials are being taken care of.

Living with dementia is never easy for the patient or the people around him/her and when financials start to get affected as a result of one’s mental health and stress is created inside a family that might make the situation even worse. This is why one must take care of the forthcoming problems as soon as the early signs of dementia begin to make their very first appearances.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing something similar, it is advised that you head over to https://www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/ for the best possible suggestions and solutions to these problems. It’s a brilliant source of intelligent information and effective techniques that are devised with the sole purpose of helping people with mental health disorders manage their money better.