Taking over financial responsibility from a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be among the most challenging tasks that fall on the shoulders of a caregiver. If you’ve ever struggled with a spouse or parent losing bills, a multilayered legal process, or elder financial abuse, you’re not alone.
Some members took over financial responsibility as soon as a loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. “When my husband was first diagnosed, the first thing we did was get all of our finances and everything in order,” one wife on myALZteam shared. She encouraged other members to “find yourself an elder care attorney and get your financial power of attorney and everything taken care of.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers several resources for families making legal and financial plans for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Guides for managing a loved one’s finances are available through the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Some members struggle to know when the time is right to intervene in finances, especially for a parent. “For the last year we have been monitoring my mom. Until recently, she was reasonable with withdrawals,” one member on myALZteam wrote. “However, [in a couple months] she has withdrawn about six or seven months of her miscellaneous expense allotment. I hate to take away this last responsibility, but it is a lot of money.”
Members encouraged her to take over financial responsibility to protect her mother’s future, but to create opportunities to include her mom in financial activities. One member suggested setting up a small “fun money” account so her mother can still feel some control over her finances. Another member recommended paying bills together so her mother can feel involved. “I just recently took over my mother's finances because she stopped paying the bills,” the member explained. “Now we do the bills together on a weekly basis so she can see where the money is going.”
Taking over financial responsibility can be made more difficult when spouses or parents with Alzheimer’s become angry or frustrated. “I had to take over my dad's finances two years ago,” one member shared. “He still is furious because he feels he is just fine to do this. He may hate me for it each day, but I know in my heart I am doing right by him and taking care of him.”
Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s accuse caregivers of stealing their money. Paranoia and delusions, often linked to memory loss, are common in people with Alzheimer’s. One woman wrote, “My mom has a few friends who feed into her fear that I am buying things for myself or paying my bills with her money, which I’m not. If she has gone out with her friends, she comes back accusing me of writing checks and charging her accounts.”
Others related to this member’s frustrations. “Paranoia is common,” one caregiver responded. “My husband used to handle finances and of course now I do! He questions and accuses me a lot and it's very frustrating.” Another member agreed, “I wish there was an easy answer. It’s incredibly frustrating. Best thing we have found is to just assure [our mother] that she is fine and that her money is fine and that we are looking out for her because we love her.”
Even when spouses or parents with Alzheimer’s raise objections, members encourage caregivers to take over financial responsibility before too much damage is done. “We were too late at helping and had to fix the mess,” one daughter wrote. “My dad had accidentally withdrawn $30,000 out of his mutual funds.” Another member shared that her husband neglected to pay bills and taxes for their rental properties: “We are getting letters with late fees, but I’m getting all the ducks in order. I still have a couple more financial institutions to meet with and get paperwork to.”
Unfortunately, in some cases, myALZteam members discover that family, friends, or caregivers have financially abused their loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. “I had siblings ‘borrowing’ large amounts, and I was worried there would be none left for my mom’s needs,” one caregiver wrote. Another woman shared, “My mom was being robbed on a regular basis when she lived alone. It was family and friends. When I stepped in and took her into my home, I saw this was happening from her bank records. I changed her bank account numbers.”
Members in the United States can contact their states’ adult protective services (APS) department if they suspect financial abuse. Contact information for your state’s APS services is available through the National Adult Protective Services Association.
On myALZteam, the social network and online support group for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Financial responsibility is one of the most discussed topics.
Here are some conversations about taking over financial responsibility:
Here is a question-and-answer thread about taking over financial responsibility:
Have you taken over financial responsibility for a loved one with Alzheimer’s? What challenges have you faced? What advice do you have for others in the same position? Share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments. You can also join or log in and post on myALZteam.