Financial Planning for the Family with Alzheimer’s

Many of the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s disease are first recognized in an individual’s confusion over financial issues. Trouble keeping track of monthly bills, an inability to manage a budget or making poor financial decisions such as giving large amounts of money to telemarketers are common changes that may occur in the early stages of the disease.

Broaching the topic of finances with a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be difficult for the caregiver. This topic can also be difficult for financial advisers to discuss. According to an October 20, 2010 New York Times article “Money Woes Can Be Early Clue to Alzheimer’s”:

Last year, Fidelity Investments surveyed 350 investment advisers… Most — 84 percent — said they thought they had had clients with Alzheimer’s or symptoms indicating that they were developing it. And 96 percent said they did not feel prepared to deal with those clients. Half said they were not comfortable even raising the subject of dementia. They worried that they might be wrong about a client’s mental capacity, and even if they were right, they did not know what they were supposed to do about it or where to refer the client for assessment and help.

People often find it difficult to start the conversation about financial planning for several reasons, including fear, embarrassment, respect for privacy and denial. However, understanding money matters is especially vital for the person with Alzheimer’s because of the cost the disease incurs and the risk that finances could be inadvertently mismanaged. The sooner plans can begin, the more the person with dementia may be able to participate and secure a healthy financial future.

The Alzheimer’s Association can help you understand the financial considerations that you should discuss if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia. Our Money Matters brochure covers much of the basic information you’ll need to get started and is available at www.alz.org or by calling 1.800.272.3900.