The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise. According to the Alzheimer’s Association report for 2019, an estimated 5.8 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s and are being cared for by more than 16 million family members. Maybe one of those family members is you!
They project that in thirty years, the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers will reach nearly 14 million.
Children of aging parents who suspect a parent is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or have a parent already diagnosed with the disease, should consider a Power of Attorney (POA).
A POA gives a family member the legal right to step in and make decisions that a parent with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis is unable to make themselves, or doesn’t want to.
There are various, even urgent, situations when having a POA is extremely important. For instance, you may need to:
Find a trusted money manager to handle day-to-day bill paying and the daily money management of bills, medical and insurance statements, tax preparation, and other personal financial tasks.
Act as family spokesperson regarding medical appointments, surgery, and doctor appointments.
Take care of things at home if your parents or loved one is still healthy enough to travel in retirement, or at any time they are away from their home.
Managing money can be a real challenge for elders. For their adult children, there are signs you can look for and ways you can help.
Memory Lapses. Does your elder parent forget to pay bills or pay them more than once?
Help with bill paying and banking by assuring that Social Security and pension checks are direct deposited. Set us automatic transfers for monthly IRA withdrawals and automatic bill payments for rent, mortgage, utilities, credit cards and other expenses.
Disorganization. Does your elder parent lose track of bills, statements and other financial documents? Do they get frustrated with annual taxes and forget to file?
Help by first organizing all their important legal documents, then (before your elder parent becomes incapacitated) set up a durable power of attorney to allow you to write checks, pay bills, change investment and perform other financial tasks.
Math Mistakes. Does your elder parent appear to have difficulty making change, measuring for a recipe, figuring out a restaurant tip, balancing a checkbook?
Help by removing the frustration of money matters from their everyday life. Check over the investment portfolio and be sure it’s conservative – Treasury bills, bonds, bank CDs and money market accounts, and low risk stocks. Seek the advice of a financial planner for help with investment decisions.
Confusion. Does your elder parent have difficulty understanding basic terms and concepts when talking about financial matters such as loans, estate plans, or investments?
Help by reviewing or establishing a will with a qualified attorney. At the same time, establish a living will that states healthcare issues in the event your parent becomes incapacitated.
Impaired Judgement. Does your elder parent make questionable or poor financial decisions?
Help by setting up a time to review money matters on a monthly basis so you can continue to monitor his or her judgement on financial matters and take the appropriate action.
Today’s families are extremely busy or may live far away from their elder parent. In these situations, we can help in all the ways mentioned above. We’ll make regular visits to your elder parent and document our observations so together we chart a money management plan that puts everyone at ease.
As Halloween approaches, I can’t help but think of the throngs of happy ghosts, goblins, witches, ballerinas, spidermen, and vampires that will soon trample our landscapes and beg for candy on our doorsteps. But the dark side of the season also brings to mind how our elders can so easily be trampled upon as well.
The financial elder abuser stalks day and night. It could be a professional thief, an unassuming neighbor who drops in for coffee periodically, or even an unscrupulous relative.
Here are some warning signs:
Caregivers or family members who isolate the senior or prevent the senior from speaking for themselves
An uptick in the frequency of bank account withdrawals
Unusual credit card charges that don’t make sense
ATM withdrawals when the senior is home-bound
Sadly, the abuse could be committed by family members as well as complete strangers. Be sure a responsible, trustworthy person serves as your parent’s agent to be sure your parent’s money is used only for their benefit. Name a trustworthy power of attorney for finance.
This may mean some painful but frank conversations with family members about loans, gifts and receipt keeping. It may mean checking the senior’s finances on a regular basis, looking for fraud or outright theft. Better yet, find a certified professional to monitor the finances for you.
Be sure the goblins in yours and your elder parents’ lives are the harmless kind. And enjoy the haunting!