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Managing Finances for a Parent With Alzheimer’s

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
7 minute readLast updated April 3, 2023

While your parent or loved one may want to manage their own finances for as long as possible following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, they will eventually need help. It’s important to take a proactive approach to helping your parent. Warning signs that they can’t make sound financial decisions vary. From piles of unopened or unpaid bills, to making impulsive and lavish purchases, there’s much for you to consider. Speak to your parent about their financial situation as soon as possible, and make sure you have all the documents you may need.

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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.
“It’s often hard for parents to admit that they need help, and no one wants to lose their independence,” explains geriatric psychologist Dr. Melissa Henston. “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.”

Warning signs a parent with Alzheimer’s needs help managing their 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
  • Needed home repairs are aren’t getting done
  • Sudden expensive purchases that don’t seem to fit your parent’s normal spending habits
  • Falling victim to elder fraud or financial scams
  • A mental and/or physical inability to keep up with daily living tasks

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Tips for managing finances for a parent with Alzheimer’s

Having a discussion with aging parents 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 their affairs in order if there are signs they can no longer handle money management. Use the following tips to get started.

1. Get organized

It’s likely you’ll need to gather a lot of information and get it organized.
Here’s a general list of documents and other things you’ll need:
  • Bank account information
  • Estate planning documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Marriage license
  • Passwords and usernames
  • Personal financial statements to account for assets, debt, and spending habits
  • Proof of ownership documents (for example, registration and title)
  • Retirement accounts information
It’s important to keep this 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 running high.

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2. Prepare legal documents

Getting legal documents in order when your loved one is still mentally and physically able will not only help them document their wishes but also protect their assets and estate. Without them, you and your family may experience disagreements over finances and care decisions. You might even need to go through the costly and time-consuming process of seeking guardianship of your parent. When prepared correctly, these documents can be like gifts to your family.
Basic legal documents an aging parent should have include:
  • Advanced directives, such as a durable power of attorney for health care and a living will
  • A durable power of attorney for finances
  • A will

3. Review documents and information regularly

Generally, legal documents should be reviewed annually or after major life events. Family visits are a great time to review your senior loved one’s medical, legal, and financial plans. Personal preferences may change over the years, so it’s important to keep them updated. If any changes are needed, your parent may need to consult with their attorney or financial advisor to make them.

4. Perform regular financial health checkups

Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered the crime of the 21st century. Scammers target older adults because they’re likely to have accumulated significant wealth 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 various types of fraud.

5. Consult 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 legal and financial planning will not only help give your parent peace of mind but also make it easier for you to help carry out their wishes.


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OurParents Staff

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