• Conner Ashman

Money Troubles: An Early Warning Sign of Alzheimer's

Updated: Mar 5

One of the first noticeable signs that someone may be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s is financial trouble. People with undiagnosed Dementia are at a high risk of making harmful financial decisions because their family does not know they need help. These people often aren’t even aware of their mental decline themselves, and if they are, they may be tempted to hide their financial struggles to protect their independence. Possible results of this going unnoticed for too long are unpaid bills, overspending on credit cards, decreased emphasis on investments, and an increased vulnerability to fraud.

The financial stress caused by these issues is experienced by the family at the same time the substantial costs associated with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis are thrown at them, and they may have significantly less money to work with while fighting the disease than initially expected. The average cost of treating someone with Alzheimer’s from diagnosis to death is $341,000. It isn’t uncommon for up to seventy percent of these costs to be paid out of pocket by the family, so a significant decrease in wealth prior to diagnosis can be destructive. Signs to look for in your loved ones include trouble counting change, paying for purchases, calculating tips, balancing the checkbook, and understanding bank statements. Expressions of fear or worry when discussing money, unpaid or unopened bills, increased purchasing on credit cards, out-of-character purchases, and missing money are also common.

In the early stages of the disease, a family member or trustee should check the person’s financial records monthly and step in to help if needed. They should confirm that vital bills have been paid and keep a close eye on the person’s credit score. It is also a good idea to speak with a financial planner early so the person can participate in the decisions being made on what to do with their assets. This also provides an opportunity to add provisions for trusted people so that the financial planner will have the authorization to discuss any concerns they may have with the person’s loved ones before an emergency happens. Tips to help someone living with Alzheimer’s maintain their feeling of independence include letting them keep small amounts of cash and voided checks on hand, minimizing the limit on their credit card, and even letting them carry canceled cards.

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