Preventing Money Problems
During the early stages of Alzheimer's people manage their situation pretty well. It is both unfortunate and inevitable that the situation will worsen over time. Taking some simple steps with personal finances can help to prolong independence and will reassure everyone. In this article I focus on preventative measures to help avoid a financial crisis.
A good first step is for you as the partner and/or main caregiver to assess the current financial situation. You need some sensitivity but try to talk frankly, openly and honestly about the situation as you see it. Reading the following points will also help you to construct a case as to why the changes you propose are useful and necessary. Don't expect an answer immediately, you may need to sew the seeds at first, but you may also have to remind the person of the importance of their financial status.
A good start is to locate where the various financial documents are located in case any are needed in the future. This information will help to protect the person's financial state if an emergency occurs. Here we are talking about bank statements, insurance policies, rental agreements, social security payments, anywhere unpaid bills or invoices are stored, etc. You should reassure the person that it is not your intention to take over their financial independence but merely to protect their interests.
If the person tends to pay bills as they arrive, suggest they move towards some form of automatic payment via standing orders or direct debits from a bank account. If they don't have a bank account its a good idea to set one up.
This may be a sensitive issue but it makes a lot of sense in the event of illness or an emergency. Joint access to a bank account will allow you as the caregiver to be able to write checks or, for example, have access to a deposit box. In this event it is helpful for both parties to seek advice from a banker , attorney or qualified financial professional to avoid the pitfalls or complications that may arise from this type of arrangement.
Many people carry insurance but you may find that it is poorly balanced. Older people sometimes insure themselves too highly because of concerns about future health problems, or the balance of their insurance is unhelpful for their actual needs (i.e. cancer insurance that is already covered under a more general policy). Of course no insurance or under-insurance are issues that need to be addressed fairly promptly. Again, a reputable independent financial advisor will help with these issues if needed.
If the person has not already done so, this is the best time to make a will and to address issues regarding their estate and the disposal of wealth or possessions. Depending on the wishes of the person, a living will might also be considered if permitted by state law. Living wills enable the person, or a relative if they so choose, to determine the nature of treatment they will receive if they become unable to communicate their wishes.