Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dementia can wreck family finances

By Robyn Davis Sekula

In our family, one of the first signs that Dad was struggling with mental acuity was when I watched him try to fill out a credit card slip at a restaurant. He absolutely could not figure out how to calculate a tip, something I had seen him do routinely over the years. This was about five years ago.

In subsequent years, he got much tighter with money - and worried about things that simply weren't problems. He worried intensely about my ability to pay for my three daughters' college education. I could not convince him that I make enough money and am saving aggressively for their education in a 529 plan.

Mom finally took over the checkbook at least a year ago, maybe more. That was the last of the financial decisions he was involved in.

Dementia can be incredibly destructive to a family's financial picture, certainly from mismanagement, but also from the perspective of paying for care on a long-term basis. Had my father lived more than a year, my mother would have been forced to go on Medicare because he did not have long-term care insurance.

I ran across an article, albeit two years ago, in Smart Money online about dementia and its affects on family finances. I wanted to share it with you because I thought that you might find it helpful - and as a word of caution to anyone who has elderly parents or relatives that they care for. Keep an eye out for the tale-tell signs, and step in before deep damage is done.

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