Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

When Managing Money Gets Difficult

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Just forgetful?  Or is it more?   

Difficulty with basic money management tasks might be the first indication that memory problems are developing into Alzheimer’s, according to a study published this week in the journal Neurology. 

Skills like understanding a bank statement, balancing a checkbook, paying bills, preparing bills for mailing and counting coins and currency, were judged in a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Alzheimer’s Disease Center. 

A year later, the individual assessments showed that those who had progressed to Alzheimer’s had more trouble with money tasks, while those without Alzheimer’s did not see a decline in their money handling abilities.

 While it’s a small test, it can be a signal for doctors and caregivers that cognitive capabilities of a loved one are slipping. 

“Doctors should proactively monitor people with MCI (mild cognitive impairment) for declining financial skills and advise them and their caregivers about steps they can take to watch for signs of poor money management,” said said Daniel Marson, Ph.D., JD, professor of neurology and director of the UAB Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

 “Caregivers should consider overseeing a person’s checking transactions, contacting the person’s bank to find money issues such as bills being paid twice, or become cosigners on the checking account so that both signatures are required for checks written above a certain amount. Online banking and bill payment services are also good options,” he added.

I’ve found that automatic bill pay can be extremely helpful with elders who are beginning to have trouble with money issues.  They are still “in charge” but the bills get paid on time and there is less worry and confusion over lost bills or writing checks.

 There are also services available to help elders with bill paying, though make sure that you know it is a reputable organization and someone whom you and your loved one are comfortable with and trust.  Or, maybe this is the perfect way for a reluctant sibling to get involved and share in caregiving responsibilities.


Written by Laura Rossman

September 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm

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