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Alzheimer's Disease and Finances

- Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do you find yourself or a loved one making small money mistakes on an ongoing basis? Consistent money missteps, like forgetting bills or falling victim to scams, should set off warning bells.

Research has shown money mistakes can be an early clue to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Here are more details and steps you can take to protect yourself and your family’s finances.

1. Early clues to the disease
Research shows a marked difference in the ability to solve money problems among those with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

In one study, test subjects were asked to identify coins, count money for a purchase, explain what a check was, read a bank statement, determine a fair price, and analyze a bill.

The study showed the more progressed the disease was in a participant, the less likely they were to problem solve.

In another, seniors with mild symptoms were unable to explain the risks of telephone solicitations, something that can result in being victimized.

If you think Alzheimer’s could be a problem,  you need to get your financial house in order.

2. Possible costs
Ongoing medical care is one of many expenses to plan for with Alzheimer's disease. Costs as the disease progresses can include home safety modifications, adult day care services, in-home care services, prescription drugs, medical equipment and long term care.

3. Getting ready
If you confront dementia, either personally or with a family member, prepare as soon as possible. A complete review of all financial documents and organizing them in one place, is recommended, including:

  • Bank and brokerage account information
  • Deeds and any mortgage or ownership documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Monthly and outstanding bills
  • Pensions and other retirement benefits
  • Rental income documents
  • Social Security payment paperwork
  • Stock and bond certificates

4. Setting financial goals
Keep in mind you’ll have to prepare for future care as well as ongoing financial commitments such as bills and investments. A family member or trusted financial adviser can help you find possible financial assistance and help set up investments.

5. Legal considerations
Establish who will be responsible for financial, legal, and other decisions when you or a loved one is no longer able to do so. One way to do this is to grant a durable power of attorney.

The power of attorney will give authority to a person you choose to make decisions on your behalf. As a legal document, however, the power of attorney must be signed while the person granting the power is still mentally competent.

For more information on Alzheimer’s care, contact Spring Arbor.

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