5 Common Money Mistakes in Mild-Stage Dementia

Watch your wallet -- or more precisely, your loved one's wallet and checkbook. Problems concerning money can strike early in mild dementia and are often a symptom of cognitive issues before dementia is diagnosed.

Some common problems and what to do about them:


Confusion when making change (such as giving back too much or mistaking tens for ones)

What to do: Offer casual help if you're present, without making a big deal about it. Encourage your loved one to avoid carrying big bills.


Confusion when paying cash (such as opening wallet to say, "Take what you need.")

What to do: Try to encourage your loved one not to carry around too much cash at one time.


Not recording written checks in the checkbook

What to do: Beware of checkbooks that don't balance. Check bank balances periodically. Consider encouraging your loved one to open an online account and give you access to monitor it.


Difficulty making electronic transactions

What to do: Suggest that your loved one carry only a credit or debit card with a low balance. Arrange for third-party access to credit card accounts.


Unpaid bills

What to do: Arrange electronic automatic payments where possible. Ask your loved one to begin considering sharing financial powers of attorney with you or another family member, since these are signs that indicate problems that will only worsen over time.

"Better safe than sorry" is an important catchphrase at the intersection of money and dementia.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

about 5 years, said...

Having a real hard time keeping up with moms bills she insist on having her own mail, and then proceeds to hide and states someone is keeping it from her.whwn it is time to pay the bills she states she doesn't have any money. I,m the one who won't have any money by continuing to pay for medina, food,bills,etc. I find this only makes her angry, and when you try to explain it she states oh I see I,m getting on your nerves. If you begin to start a conversation we have to start all over again which she states she didn't say any of those things pertaining to the original problem. Sometimes I just feel like I've made a bad choice having her here with me and my very ill husband.

about 5 years, said...

I have shown mom how WE can see her account immediately as to posts, balances, etc. and she likes that I'm watching out for her while I give her as much autonomy as possible. She pretty sharp, but some days, I wonder what's ahead. Thanks for the points.

almost 6 years, said...

Checking bank statements and making sure my mum only carries small amounts of cash

about 6 years, said...