3 Ways to Handle Someone With Dementia Who Can No Longer Manage Finances

The ability to manage finances well is compromised early in dementia because it involves higher-order thinking, including precise math skills, remembering to record checks, and reviewing bank statements. Some people give up these tasks willingly; others fight it.

If your loved one is a stubborn money manager long used to paying bills, you'll want to take steps to protect finances and avoid scams. But to soothe the ego, try these three ideas:

1. Consider transitioning to a simulated checkbook, available in stores that sell Alzheimer's products. A fake checkbook can feel satisfying and keep someone with progressing dementia busy. Is it a "lie"? Yes. Does it keep finances safe and spirits higher? Usually, yes.

2. Explain that you want to learn how to do it better yourself and ask to be "taught." This is a window into having the person's finances not only explained to you but it gives you a front-row seat so you can see where the money is going and if it's being distributed appropriately.

3. Help the person automate as many payments as possible. Tout this for the timesaving convenience that it is. (Then watch -- both electronically and by regular mail -- to make sure bills aren't double paid.)

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