By: Lee Anne Davies
When becoming your loved one's financial historian, it's not just about looking after their investments and bank accounts. Just because someone cannot remember a financial detail does not mean that it isn't important to him or her.
This may seem obvious when the forgotten detail is of substantial value. No one is going to suggest that the person living with Alzheimer's will be willing to forego their ownership in a million-dollar business because they can no longer remember that they own it.
However, when it comes to the smaller financial activities, such as the purchase of a birthday gift, some may feel that if the one with dementia cannot remember the occasion then it is no longer necessary to give a gift. After all, what they don't know won't hurt them -- right?
Wrong! The reality is that most who can no longer remember details will still wish that their choices in how they participate in life are continued through to their death as much as is possible.
One of the most effective ways to honour the life of someone with a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's is to pay attention to financial details while they are able to manage their affairs. Documenting their financial activities such as donations, allowances and day-to-day spending will help ensure their wishes are continued.
Substantiating their wishes through records and even the formality of receipts or other documents will help protect everyone involved in the financial transaction.
Consider the following when documenting financial behaviours:
- What represents typical day-to-day spending?
- Are there patterns beyond the day-to-day purchase of necessities -- such as placing money in a donation box -- that this person participates in?
- How particular is the person about home maintenance and do they have preferred providers?
- Is there an individual who is receiving financial support? Should this support be continued and, if so, for how long?
- Are there milestone gifts, which are typically given? What is the type of gift (e.g. school graduation gifts for each grandchild) and its approximate financial value?
- Which charities, if any, and approximate annual amounts, are given?
- Is there a service provider that is acknowledged with a regular (annual) financial gift such as a leader from their faith group or their hair dresser?
- Are there investment accounts and what are the goals for these accounts? Determine if they are discretionary or non-discretionary and who has power of attorney.
- Are there bank accounts and short-term financial products? What are the goals?
When to obtain legal assistance:
Any handling of another person's money can result in an accusation of mismanagement or abuse, sometimes from unexpected sources.
Consider reviewing the document of financial behaviours with a legal professional before the individual is no longer able to speak on their own behalf. This is especially important if another person is depending on this money for day-to-day living.
For example, there may be a special need within the family (maybe an adult child working through a divorce or with a disability) that results in an individual needing to live rent-free at the home and possibly even receive an allowance. To ensure that there is no interruption to their stable living environment, a legal professional should review this requirement.
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The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the illness will find it difficult to complete daily tasks - this could range from cleaning to forgetting the rules of a game played regularly.
The Alzheimer's Association claim that people may find it hard to read or understand certain images if suffering from the disease. They also may find it difficult to determine colour or contrast, which may stop them from driving.
People with Alzheimer's may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and also accuse others of stealing. This may become more and more frequent.
The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the condition can lose track of time, dates and seasons. Sufferers may have trouble understanding things if they are not happening promptly. They may also lose track of where they are and how they got there.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, people suffering from this type of dementia may find it difficult joining a conversation - they may also stop in the middle of conversations and don't know how to start again Writing coherently can also be a problem.
Sufferers may feel changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers. They'll probably have trouble following a basic recipe, or keeping track of monthly bills. They might find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before. Source: Alzheimer's Association
Someone with Alzheimer's may remove themselves from certain hobbies/interests and social activities.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, one of the most seen symptoms is memory loss (especially recently processed info). For example: forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over again and needing memory aides( electronic reminders).
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's disease can change, they can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. Source: Alzheimer's Association
People with Alzheimer's may have poor judgment. This can include confusion over how much money they should spend. They may also pay less attention to grooming and cleaning themselves regularly. Source: Alzheimer's Association
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