When someone you love starts to develop dementia, it can mean some major changes to the way that they and you live your lives.
While there are practical considerations to tackle, the financial side of things is going to be a serious subject. Financial independence can be a very difficult thing to let go of, but as dementia makes managing money more complicated, there comes a time when financial matters need to be addressed.
Failing to think about how your loved one can access and spend their money means that they could be exposed to some serious risks. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it's too early to start money planning. Some important items to consider below:
Set Up Lasting Power of Attorney
If you live with someone that is suffering from dementia, then you should consider setting up Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Even if your loved one is still able to make their own decisions about their finances, that may not always be the case, and the sooner that you apply for LPA, the better.
By having LPA, you will be able to help the sufferer when it comes to both their financial and property management. You will be able to help them make decisions that are in their best interests, even when they are no longer capable of doing so. Make sure that you understand the obligations and requirements of becoming an LPA for your loved one.
Making Money Management Easier
There are some great ways to make your loved one have longer control over their spending. Nobody wants to lose their financial independence, and the longer that they are able to have control over what they buy, the better. You can help this by streamlining their expenditures and the ways that they spend their money. Consider doing the following:
- Replace manual bill payments with standing orders or direct debits. This can reduce the risks of forgotten bills and their consequences.
- Talk to their bank and change their credit or debits cards to a version that doesn’t require memorising PIN numbers. Chip and Signature cards are usually the best option, as they will only require your loved one to sign their name rather than struggle to remember long or short strings of numbers.
- You should ensure that all of their incomings are paid directly into their bank account. It might also be worth applying for third party mandate. This will give you access to their bank account, and you will even be able to set limits on how much can be spent over a set period of time.
If you're worried that they might be mistakenly spending too much on their regular food shopping, then this is an effective way of minimising overspending. You may already have a joint bank account, but if you don’t, third-party mandates can make controlling both your and their finances much easier.
Know Your Benefits
Both the dementia sufferer and their carer are entitled to a number of state benefits. If you are acting as a carer for your loved one, then you too will be entitled to those benefits. While the benefits that you receive will often be dependent on your needs and the needs of your loved one, your and their national insurance payments will also be a factor. However, the options available include:
- Personal Independence Payment: This is known as PIP and is available for those patients who are under-65 but still need to get help at home.
- Attendance Allowance: This has been designed to help over-65s who need help. This can be granted without means testing and should be available to most applicants.
It’s worth knowing that by being in receipt of these benefits you might also be allowed to apply for other benefits as well, including housing benefit, pension credit, and council tax reductions. It’s always a good idea to book an appointment with your local benefits office to make sure that you and your loved one are getting all of the financial help that’s available. For those people that are caring for their loved one, then Carer’s Allowance and Carer's Credit may be an option as well, and could be useful if you are missing out on work hours due to the need to be at home more often than not.
Managing Legal Affairs
The Mental Capacity Act means that dementia sufferers are protected when it comes to decision-making about their lives. This will become important when it comes to legal areas, and that’s why it’s important to get as many legal matters resolved before your loved one is unable to prove mental capacity.
One of the most important matters to resolve is that of the patient’s will. See this list of key reasons you must have a will, and if you don’t want to run into difficulties in later years then you should prioritise this essential legality.
Plan for The Future
The more that you can prepare and plan for the next few years, the easier it will be to help your loved one manage their money. Do as much research as possible and remember that your local council can be a very valuable resource. They have a duty of care responsibility and have to give you access to independent financial advice about the money matters that will arise when you're caring for someone with dementia.
Some of the services that they provide are free, while others will have a charge attached. Whether you use the resources available through your council or not, it is always wise to understand the expected rising costs that will be incurred when you are caring for a loved one with dementia.
Helping the people that you love with their own money can be stressful, but it is essential when it comes to dementia. As dementia progresses, making decisions becomes much harder, and you don’t want your loved one to suffer needlessly from financial mishaps. It’s vital that you recognise the major problem areas and work to make them easier to manage.