Helping an adult with dementia with their finances

It is advisable for people who have recently been diagnosed with a serious illness that will result in declining mental or physical health to discuss and update their financial and health care affairs as soon as possible.

People with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia often have trouble managing their money, but the person may not realize that they are losing the ability to manage their money. Here are some signs that may indicate that a person with Alzheimer’s is not managing his or her money well or is the victim of a scam:

The person seems to be afraid or worried when talking about money.

Money is missing from the bank account.

Signatures on checks or other papers do not look like the person’s signature.

Bills are not being paid and the person does not know why.

The person’s will has been changed without his or her permission.

The person’s house has been sold without his or her consent.

Things that belong to you or the person with Alzheimer’s, such as jewelry or clothing, are missing.

The person has signed legal papers such as a will, power of attorney, or joint title to a house without knowing what the papers mean.

To prevent any of the previously mentioned examples, it is necessary to conduct timely planning. Families beginning the legal planning process should discuss how they will approach the process, what they want to happen, and what legal documents they will need. Depending on the family situation and relevant state laws, an attorney can file a variety of documents to assist in this process, including some that inform the:

Health care desires of someone who can no longer make health care decisions.

Financial management and estate planning desires of someone who can no longer make financial decisions.

Anticipatory directives for financial and estate management to effectively manage the individual’s wealth. This planning helps the individual and the family to be aware of the older adult’s wishes during and after his or her lifetime.

This article originally appeared on the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) website at It is being reprinted in Senior Voice as part of an ongoing series by the Diverse Elders Coalition, focusing on different demographic groups in the senior population.

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