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Great 'managing money with dementia' Hunt

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
41 replies 24.3K views
Former_MSE_PenelopeFormer_MSE_Penelope Former Editorial Assistant
536 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Marriage, Relationships & Families
Great 'managing money with dementia' Hunt

Alzheimer's and other dementias take an enormous toll on sufferers and their carers. Looking after finances adds to the strain. So we want your top tips on how to prepare finances after diagnosis, simplify money tasks for sufferers, and where to get help. Also see the Mental Health & Debt Help booklet, which has lasting power of attorney info (go to Chapter 5).

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  • edited 4 March 2011 at 5:21PM
    G_MG_M PPR Forumite
    52K posts
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    edited 4 March 2011 at 5:21PM
    The best thing you can do is take action before diagnosis.

    You'd have to be pretty blind, or never around, not to realise your mum/dad was slowing down and finding it harder to grasp things like finances long before actual dementia diagnosis.

    So organise a Lasting Power of Arrorney. Your mum/dad/whoever can then specify who they want to help them with finance as their attorney before they become incapacitated. If it is several years till they acytually need help, so what? If/when the time comes, registering the POA is easier because it already exists, and was drawn up while they still understood what they were doing.
    ** If I include a blue link in my post, click and read it before posting a follow-up question. The answer may be in the link! **
  • edited 4 March 2011 at 5:25PM
    hoopstarshoopstars Forumite
    24 posts
    edited 4 March 2011 at 5:25PM
    Hi This is a subject very dear to my heart at the moment. I would just like to say that while a Lasting Power of Attorney is a good idea for most people, as hopefully most attorneys are trustworthy, not all of them are. So PLEASE make sure that if you have an elderly relative considering setting up an LPA, talk to them, make sure they understand exactly what it means and make sure all the family is involved if possible.
    Very briefly I will explain why, my widowed Mother-in-law (now deceased) had a partner who got her to take out an LPA, after being diagnosed with Alzheimers, then got her to sign over half her house to him (for his security he said, although it turns out it was written into MILs Will that he could stay in the house until his death). Conveniently MILs Will was not changed at the time of the transfer (her Will split the Estate equally between Partner and Grandchildren). Not too long after LPA was signed he dumped her in a care home but he never got the LPA registered therefore he had total access to all MILs money with no records needing to be kept.
    Outwardly he was caring but it turns out that was only about himself. My Father-in-law would be turning in his grave because he always wanted their house and money to be split between their 6 Grandchildren to help give them a start in life but as a result of this man's(Partner) actions they will get only a fraction of the Estate as he was included in MILs original Will so he gets a portion of the Grandchildrens share as well as half the house. Please take care!
  • edited 4 March 2011 at 5:26PM
    caitlyn22caitlyn22 Forumite
    209 posts
    edited 4 March 2011 at 5:26PM
    I can appreciate the idea here but I think this is far too complicated an issue to sum up in top tips.

    I hold Power of Attorney for my mum, who has had dementia for almost 10 years, she is now 62. She has lost thousands of pounds over the years simply because it was considered 'best' for her to handle her own money. It is not, she is simply too vulnerable. Every method in the book was tried to allow her to continue managing her own finances but for most people, the first part of the brain to degenerate is that which understands cause and effect, so this might mean someone uses their bank card but doesn't enter the pin then doesn't understand why they don't have money. Or they might buy something utterly daft and then be genuinely confused when they go to buy food and have no money. Once my mum decided she had to be somewhere and spent £160 on a taxi journey to get there, thankfully some kind person found her wandering the streets, took her in and rang the police, they knew to call me as she had been reported missing. This was at a point BEFORE her diagnosis, when she was perfectly capable of convincing anyone that nothing was wrong and when we were fighting Social Services to say that the 'freedom' they seemed so determined to give her was threatening her safety! I know people worry about 'forgetting' things but dementia is so much more complicated than this and so most systems for helping sufferers remember, are actually a waste of time.

    Now my mum is at a point where she no longer cares - she never has money on her and never questions how things are paid for. But for a long time she complained to anyone that would listen that people were stealing from her, taking her purse etc. Obviously this is all part of the illness - by the time a diagnosis happens for most people, they are past the point of understanding it and therefore simply feel angry at the loss of control. I don't think any top tips can possibly prepare anyone for the emotional side of having to take control of someone elses finances - all I would say is prepare as soon as possible and talk to your loved ones about what will need to happen.

    Because my mum lost so much money and was also able to run up debts she had no hope of paying back, she could no longer get a bank account and wouldn't even be accepted on a basic bank account as she could no longer articulate decisions. I bank with Smile and rang them to explain my situation, after sending them a copy of my power of attorney they allowed me to open another account in her name, which her benefits can now be paid in to directly. I hold a card that has my name and POA on it and I now manage her income and outgoings. Life is so much easier - I could write a book on how many crazy/scary things happened in the time when my mum was handling her own money!

    Edited to add: Alzheimer's Society were incredibly supportive and offered us lots of guidance. We also appreciated the support of a specialist team that supports adults under 65 with early onset dementia - worth checking out whether your area has one, they're much more equipped to deal with issues such as finance.
  • LorryleeLorrylee Forumite
    1 posts


    About a year or so ago I noticed a sharp decline in my father's memory and ability to understand utility bills or other correspondence, i.e. from his housing authority. His behaviour in general is bizarre and he hoards things to the point where he even gets food out of the wheelie bin that we have thrown away!
    I recognised Dementia but when my sister and I tried to talk to him about it and suggested a trip to the doctor he became very aggressive and suspicious and refused to discuss it further. My sister was caring for him physically but I continued to see that bills etc were paid via a joint bank account that I had previously set up with him. I did this primarily because I did not live close by and because it was easier for me to manage his affairs online and by Direct Debit.
    However, other than signing a letter to the council to permit me to discuss his housing and his council tax etc he would not even think about a Power of Attorney. In his mind he was not suffering from dementia and did not need to think about someone else needing this in the future. His mind has worsened and he phones me daily, sometimes twice daily to ask why money has been paid to the gas and electric company etc and to query the amounts paid, often insisting that they are 'ripping him off' and telling me to get the money back and to change suppliers. Sometimes he sees an advert on the telly or in a magazine and rings up himself to change suppliers saying his daughter (me) won't get him the best deal. This is not true as I regularly review tariffs for my own peace of mind and economy, through this site and by shopping around, so I know what is the best deal for him. I have spent countless hours negotiating on the telephone to get him the best deal only for him to cancel it later.
    All of this is highly frustrating because he now is adamant he will not visit his GP in case he 'takes away his driving license'! A power of attorney would give me peace of mind but he won't cooperate!
  • arowenarowen Forumite
    5 posts
    :( Forgive me for stating the obvious, but if the LPA was not registered then he had no legal right to access her money. if what you say is true, you should consult a solicitor. It may be possible to bring a criminal case against him and recover some of the losses.

    the point of your post however remains the same. it is a real shame that there weren't other members of the family named as well as her partner - if in doubt, make sure that more than one attorney has to be involved in any decision making. if not in doubt (i have joint LPA for my mother with my sister) then it is much simpler letting one of them get on with it!

    :) One other tip - register it BEFORE it is needed. It means that in an emergency you can get on with the business in hand and not delay acting, whilst waiting for the legal wheels to turn. That sort of delay could turn an emergency into a crises!
  • caitlyn22caitlyn22 Forumite
    209 posts
    Lorrylee wrote: »
    All of this is highly frustrating because he now is adamant he will not visit his GP in case he 'takes away his driving license'! A power of attorney would give me peace of mind but he won't cooperate!

    I'm so sorry you're having to go through this, I know how awful it is. I wish I had something positive to say but all I can say is that unfortunately, things may have to get much worse before they get better. In the end we had to wait until my mum was much less 'angry' before we managed to get PoA - but that does happen. We were told that she would gradually come to 'accept' dementia, well that's sort of true, but all it really means is that she still doesn't think anything is wrong with her but now doesn't question when we do things for her. She's in her own little world, but to meet her, most people would still never guess there was anything wrong with her.

    If you really don't think your dad would accept you telling him, from the heart, that this is a stressful, awful time for you too and you need his cooperation, then his refusal to cooperate is more than likely just part of his illness.

    Wishing you all the best, I hope things work out for you!
  • I agree that it is important to get your parents to buy in to the setting up of the POA before they need it. I am lucky that mine did it unasked, when they were still relatively young. When you have to use it, you will find it takes ages to get banks etc. to accept you and you may have all sorts of problems with getting them to write to you and to your address and not the parent's address. However, once sorted, it really does make life much easier.

    I have 2 very elderly parents. My mother has advanced Alzheimer and is in a home. I manage all her finances and it takes a lot of time - pensions, benefits, care home fees etc. The last one is the most distressing, at over £800 a week. Any savings can go very fast at that rate. The resident has to pay all the care home fees until his or her savings go below £23,000. After that the Council takes over (more or less - she still pays a contribution).

    Only Mum's assets can be used to pay for her care - there is no claim on Dad's or their house while he lives there. We managed to split all my parents' assets so that I could manage Mum's money separate from Dad's. To be scrupulously fair, we split joint savings in half. Where they had joint accounts we set up separate accounts and I was put on as POA for Mum's accounts. I use online banking to manage it all.

    We realised that if Dad predeceased her, his will would leave everything to her and it would all go to pay her care home fees. So he changed his will to leave everything to children and grandchildren, which was his wish. However, this only protected his half of the house, their biggest asset. So if he predeceases her, her half of the house will be released to her and can be used to pay her fees.

    Of course, she cannot change her will, so if she predeceases him, all her assets will go to him and may then be used for any care he may need. You have to be very careful not to give away any money that may be used for your care, so he would probably not be able to pass it on to the family.

    Make sure that your parent has all the benefits that they are entitled to. Although we were visited by a social worker when Mum was living at home with Dad, she did not tell us that you can get a 25% reduction on council tax if one person has dementia. Luckily we found out and managed to get some rebate.

    The one that escaped us was Pension Credit. When Mum went into the home she had a lot of savings (mostly earned by my Dad) so she had to pay her care home fees. We found out over a year and a half later that as she had a very low income, she was eligible for Pension Credit. We only managed to get it backdated and reimbursed for 3 months.
  • amandadaamandada Forumite
    1.2K posts
    G_M wrote: »
    The best thing you can do is take action before diagnosis.

    You'd have to be pretty blind, or never around, not to realise your mum/dad was slowing down and finding it harder to grasp things like finances long before actual dementia diagnosis.

    So organise a Lasting Power of Arrorney. Your mum/dad/whoever can then specify who they want to help them with finance as their attorney before they become incapacitated. If it is several years till they acytually need help, so what? If/when the time comes, registering the POA is easier because it already exists, and was drawn up while they still understood what they were doing.

    :mad:I am neither blind, nor was"never around" but my mum was diagnosed with alzheimer's at the age of 57. She died last year at the age of 67.

    Even the GP was taken aback at the diagnosis after the MRI
  • caitlyn22caitlyn22 Forumite
    209 posts
    Gardener12 wrote: »
    I agree that it is important to get your parents to buy in to the setting up of the POA before they need it. I am lucky that mine did it unasked, when they were still relatively young. When you have to use it, you will find it takes ages to get banks etc. to accept you and you may have all sorts of problems with getting them to write to you and to your address and not the parent's address. However, once sorted, it really does make life much easier.

    A very good point - get lots of properly approved copies of the PoA document as initially it seems like everyone and the Milkman needs to see it! Don't think I've flashed a copy of mine for some years now but still keep a little pile of them on file so can produce as needed, bearing in mind some people lose it or never bother to return it if asked!

    I'm planning to give my OH and sister PoA - I'm only 28 but even if you ignore the fact that I'm at more risk of early onset dementia, anything else could happen and I'd want to make sure my loved ones had power to act without question on my behalf, if I lost my faculties, so to speak!

    Your story is a tough one Gardener, I'm lucky in one sense as my mum had absolutely nothing, so though it was costly for me and my sister for a long time, now that she is sorted we find she is well provided for in terms of her care. Almost everything she gets in benefits is taken as a contribution to her care but we know this is a tiny fraction of what she'd be paying if she had savings/assets.

    It's tough, sometimes I think she's a classic example of why there's little incentive to work hard (or work at all in her case) and save for the future, but then I also think she's a classic example of someone who has had clear mental health problems all of her life, who slipped through every crack in every system and is only now suitably protected by the welfare state. Whichever it is, she's blissfully unaware of her surroundings, telling everyone (and convincing some) that she works there!

    If anyone in the North East needs support then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Dementia Care Partnership - their independent supported living properties are incredible.
  • its a hard one
    my mil had memory loss (she wouldnt admit)
    i had power of attorney
    why me i was only daughter in law
    i was only one who cared and oh was given 6 months (to live needed liver transplant)
    untill i was given access to her money did i find out
    she had lost over £11000
    where had it gone
    well i got her post redirected to my house
    you know those letters give us £10 we will give u £50,000
    she was sending over a £100 per week

    dont know why i am posting but please take care of the elderly
    cause they are at risk

    kas xx
    br no 188 ;) AD 17th apr 09:D
    :Dmortgage free 22/5/09:D
    :Ddebt free 11/8/09:D
    :j#18 £2 saver = £ :T sealed pot #333
    silent member of mikes mob
    i will lose weight :rolleyes: i will sort my house :o
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