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:

Problem

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.

Problem

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.

Problem

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.

Problem

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.

Problem

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