Being in control of our own finances is something we all value for the sense of independence it brings us. Despite the challenges that handling finances can present to someone living with dementia, maintaining ownership of them can feel hugely important. Whilst the ideal scenario is to be able to continue independently in this area, the different stages of the dementia journey may make handling money, financial planning and other money matters, trickier.
Everyone’s experience of living with dementia will be unique, so there’s no “one size fits all” plan. Here are some aspects of money management that can start to become more difficult as time goes on:
Forgetting pin numbers
Losing or misplacing cash
Changing utilities supplier
Understanding investments or making choices about financial planning
Often, day-to-day tasks, such as paying for shopping, paying to get on the bus and posting a letter are manageable. They’re so commonplace that they’re almost second nature, and as a result they can be undertaken independently for some time- as long as the right support is in place.
Tips for safely continuing with the management of day-to-day finances
When compared with more complex financial decision making, routine transactions are often easier to manage. However, things like ensuring you have the correct change or taking cash out can present potentially stressful situations. Here are some quick fix ways to make day-to-day money handling simpler:
Create a weekly budget and stick to a routine of getting cash out on the same day each week. It might be helpful to do this with a friend or family member
Prefill several labelled envelopes with the cash you will need for that week. For example, you might have one for shopping, one for transport and one for newspapers
Try to pay for as many bills as possible by setting up direct debits or standing orders. That will remove the anxiety around having to remember what needs to be paid and when
Avoid keeping large sums of cash in one place in case it gets misplaced. Instead keep a reserve sum somewhere safe in case of emergency, only take the cash you need out with you
Let’s be honest, most of us struggle when asked to reel off a series of passwords, passcodes and secret answers to access our online banking or telephone banking. Some systems can be harder to get into than Fort Knox! No wonder then that this can be especially tricky to handle for someone living with dementia. Thankfully, most banks are now equipped to help and can offer a number of useful and sensible solutions:
A signature and chip card-meaning you only need a signature to pay for something by card, as opposed to a pin number
Most banks are now set up for Voice ID telephone banking, ending the need for all those easily forgotten passcodes
Some banks offer “talking Cash Point Machines”, which can make getting cash out a little easier
Carer’s cards or third-party mandates mean someone else can be given access to a specified account in order to help access cash on your behalf
The Cost-of-Living Crisis and living with dementia
The current increase in the cost of living is proving worrisome for many families. The uncertainty of when prices will rise, and what goods or services they might affect can be especially concerning for some people living with dementia, for whom routines and predictability are particularly important.
The knock-on effects of this such as, increasing direct debits, changing or investigating new suppliers and of course, affordability of energy, can all present real sources of anxiety. Staying warm and feeling secure is vital, especially in winter when the darker afternoons and mornings can prove disorientating. Here are some handy hints for limiting the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on those living with dementia and their families:
Make sure all appliances are as energy efficient as possible, including light bulbs
Fit draught extractors to doors and windows
Switch off all lights when you leave a room
When boiling a kettle make sure to boil only the amount of water needed
Try to use washing machines and dishwashers only when they’re full
HM Government and money and Pensions Service, has a free budgeting tool you can use
Make sure you’re on the right benefits and are getting the correct level of support – use the HM Government benefits calculator to help you or book an appointment with your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Sadly, some criminals see opportunity in crises such as these. Make sure that your contact details are ex directory and be extra vigilant to scams- never revealing details about yourself, or your personal financial details, unless your 100% sure that the source is legitimate
This can all feel really daunting, especially for people living with dementia. Our Wayfinding Team are here to support you and address any concerns you might have about managing your own finances, or supporting someone who is living with dementia to stay financially independent. They will also be able to advise on next steps for any families who feel their loved one isn’t coping with financial independence.
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Our Wayfinding Team are always here to offer free advice and guidance for your whole dementia journey, even from before you have a formal diagnosis. The Wayfinders can also sign post to other services we work with to provide holistic, person-centred support.
If you have concerns about your loved one's memory, you can contact our Wayfinders on 01243 888691. They can support you and your loved ones for your whole journey with dementia, from pre-diagnosis to end of life care.