Passing the Checkbook: 5 Signs It’s Time to Handle Your Loved One’s Finances

Knowing when – and how – to manage a parent’s finances is a tricky business for many reasons: people with memory loss may resent the implication – regardless of its validity – that they are incapable of handling their affairs; they are embarrassed by or grieving the loss of their independence; they don’t trust someone else with their personal information, perhaps to the point of paranoia; other parties may accuse a family caregiver of taking advantage of their loved one or siblings may object to how their sister or brother handles what they see as their future inheritance. (Unfortunately, those last ones do happen, and all too frequently.)

“Judgment, reasoning, and impulse control – all things necessary for appropriate financial management – are negatively impacted by dementia,” says Monica Bonilla, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, Florida. “Losing the ability to manage personal finances is actually a classic warning sign of possible dementia, and families are urged to identify changes in their loved one’s financial activity so they can take steps to protect the person’s assets as soon as possible.”

In this post, we’ll address 5 signs it may be time to get involved in your loved one’s financial affairs and how to do so.

  1. Poor judgment. When telemarketers – legitimate or otherwise – call, is your loved one all too quick to give them a credit card number? Are your parent’s bank statements full of suspicious transactions? Seniors are prime targets for scammers, and impaired judgment places those with memory loss at an even higher risk for financial loss.

Protect your loved one by monitoring their finances, putting their phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to block legitimate telemarketing companies, equipping your loved one’s mobile or landline phone to block scammers, and reporting suspicious activity to your loved one’s bank or credit card company.

  1. Misplaced trust. Financial abuse of older adults is extremely common, with billions of dollars lost every year, but not all beneficiaries are strangers. Beware of people close to your loved one who may have malintent.

If your loved one’s dementia is making them vulnerable, a financial plan can keep their money (and future) safe by minimizing the funds available not only to scamming strangers but also to scheming family members, ‘friends’ and other unethical opportunists in your loved one’s care circle. Read More: What to Do If You Suspect a Senior Is Being Financially Abused or Exploited

  1. Bills are past due. If your parent refuses to let you pay – or even look at – their bills, consider setting up automatic payments for utilities and other monthly fees to be withdrawn from their account. This third-party compromise can help your parent feel like they’re not giving up as much control to their child, and their child – you – won’t feel a bunch of unnecessary headaches twelve times a year.
  2. Uncharacteristic overspending. Has isolation, boredom, or insomnia drawn your parent to the wonders of home shopping networks or online shopping sites? Are they duplicating recent orders that they forgot they’d placed? Do they compulsively order supplies, e.g., bags and bags ... and more bags ... of pet food, for fear of running out?

Help your parent set up automatic deliveries for prescriptionsgroceries, and frequently restocked toiletries, detergents, paper products, and yes, pet food. Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program has thousands of items available to mix and match for discounted rates. Mark the arriving-on dates on your loved one’s calendar.

When overspending is a problem, lowering the limits on cash withdrawals and credit cards is a good way to recognize their independence with minimal financial risk. Assure your parent that the money is still theirs and, if appropriate, they will still have their ATM and/or a credit card for everyday purchases.

  1. Extreme frugality. Having grown up during the Great Depression or other global periods of economic downturn affects many seniors’ relationships with money. One extreme is to overspend because now they can. Another is to pinch every penny, refusing to allow even necessities like medication, groceries, utilities, or hygiene products to get between them and their wallets. If your loved one refuses to relinquish an iota of this control, it may be time to call in a professional.

Ask friends for recommendations and research Daily Money Managers in your area. If your loved one chooses this route, try not to take it personally. In fact, you may find it a blessing not to have to deal with the added responsibilities or possible accusations of mishandling your loved one’s finances by family members or your loved one.


TIP: If you do become the keeper of your parent’s finances, keep detailed records. Showing your loved one and other interested parties exactly where your parent’s money is going will help ease anxieties and protect you against wrongful accusations of mishandling your parent’s financial affairs.


RELATED: Who's in Charge? Getting Guardianship of Someone with Dementia


For more tips on handling sensitive topics with your loved one as dementia progresses, give YourLife™ of Pensacola’s dementia experts a call today. 850-290-2632


The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves

Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents define their own lifestyles, informed by their preferences, needs and story while having peace of mind with 24-hour support.

Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all our resources and attention cater to each resident’s needs while providing unmatched peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible.

At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you.

Call us at ​850-290-2632 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.