Dementia may cause major financial problems long before diagnosis – this was the headline in a recent Washington Post article.
Often, family members are the first to notice something awry. The signs could include things like missing critical medications, or putting last night’s leftovers in the toaster oven or microwave instead of the refrigerator – only to be found a couple days later. Ewww. Yes, this is exactly what my family members did as they aged.
Or, you may be helping with organization of the mail and bills and start to see funny things going on. Things that do not appear normal.
Accountants and financial advisors are the front line workers who will start to see signs which may include:
- Delinquencies on bills (mortgage, credit cards, utilities)
- Victim of scams
- Making risky financial decisions such as putting it all in one stock
- Inability to make financial decisions
- Being taken advantage of by a family member
Addressing cognitive issues that are affecting a family member or client’s ability to make good financial decisions is difficult, but often necessary, to avoid calamities that could threaten someone’s financial freedom, housing or other necessities of life.
Deteriorating financial capabilities have long been considered one of the earliest signs of cognitive decline – and often goes unrecognized for long periods of time. New research published by JAMA Network after a study of nearly 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries living on their own, shows that elders are more likely to miss bill payments up to 6 years prior to diagnosis of Alzheimer disease or related dementias and start to develop subprime credit scores more than 2 years prior to diagnosis.
Common dementia related behaviors include memory problems, decreased attention and judgment, erratic bill payments, risky financial decisions and susceptibility to financial fraud are early indicators. Often, family and physicians do not detect these behaviors until later in the course of the disease. Catastrophic financial events including foreclosure and asset depletion are being reported in news.
By the time dementia is discovered or diagnosed, without any restrictive means in place, including a durable power of attorney, healthcare surrogate or preneed guardian designation, the only avenue someone else can take care of your loved one’s healthcare and finances is through guardianship. Whether you have a loved one, or you are a professional guardian, facing the inevitability of guardianship, Florida law requires you to be represented by an attorney. Having a law firm that has experience and commitment to serving the elderly on your side will make the entire process much less daunting, and expensive. WE ARE LAWYERS WHO ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT SERVING THE CAUSES OF THE ELDERLY AND WE CAN HELP YOU NAVIGATE THROUGH THE COMPLEX TERRAIN OF GUARDIANSHIP!
Offering a helping hand to getting financial help early, even years before diagnosis is the key to ensuring good financial heath of our elders.