watch your wallet — or more precisely, your loved one’s wallet and checkbook. Problems concerning money can strike early in mild dementia and are often a symptom of cognitive issues before dementia is diagnosed.
Some common problems and what to do about them:
Confusion when making change (such as giving back too much or mistaking tens for ones)
What to do: Offer casual help if you’re present, without making a big deal about it. Encourage your loved one to avoid carrying big bills.
Confusion when paying cash (such as opening wallet to say, “Take what you need.”)
What to do: Try to encourage your loved one not to carry around too much cash at one time.
Not recording written checks in the checkbook
What to do: Beware of checkbooks that don’t balance. Check bank balances periodically. Consider encouraging your loved one to open an online account and give you access to monitor it.
Difficulty making electronic transactions
What to do: Suggest that your loved one carry only a credit or debit card with a low balance. Arrange for third-party access to credit card accounts.
What to do: Arrange electronic automatic payments where possible. Ask your loved one to begin considering sharing financial powers of attorney with you or another family member, since these are signs that indicate problems that will only worsen over time.
“Better safe than sorry” is an important catchphrase at the intersection of money and dementia.