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Dementia and coronavirus – how to support those affected manage their finances

We look at the latest on how coronavirus is impacting those living with dementia and give our financial tips on what you can do about it.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

This article is more than 6 months old

It was correct at the time of publishing. Our views and any references to tax, investment and pension rules may have changed since then.

The ONS reported over March and April 2020, dementia was the most common pre-existing condition associated with coronavirus deaths, accounting for 1 in 4.

Research suggests that loneliness is tied to a raised risk of dementia among older adults. And with this being one of the biggest knock-on effects from coronavirus precautions, it’s a worry what impact this could be having on those already affected, or yet to be diagnosed.

Living with dementia at any time brings challenges and coronavirus is making daily life much harder.

Worried about your memory or someone else’s?

We’ve all struggled for that word on the tip of our tongue or forgotten what we went upstairs for – most small memory slips aren’t serious.

But while ‘spotting’ dementia is only something a qualified health professional can do, we do need to be mindful that memory loss can be a sign of dementia. This is especially true if you:

  • Struggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things from the past
  • Find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
  • Forget the names of close friends or everyday objects
  • Struggle to recall things you have heard, seen or read recently
  • Regularly lose the thread of what you are saying
  • Find yourself putting objects in unusual places – such as your keys in the fridge
  • Feel confused, even in a familiar place, or get lost on familiar journeys
  • Find that people start to notice or comment on your memory loss.

If you’re worried about someone’s memory, suggest they visit their GP or talk to an organisation like the Alzheimer’s Society.

Helping with finances

Dementia is a disease diagnosed every 3 minutes in the UK. A stark reminder that this could affect any of us. It's really important that you and your family discuss money and finances at home. If something were to happen, you’ll have the reassurance that the financial side will be taken care of. Having this discussion as early as possible can make things much easier for all involved.

There are ways you can help give the person with dementia independence while giving you peace of mind that if you need to help you can. We’ve covered a few common examples of what you can do to help.

This article isn't personal advice. If you’re not sure if a financial decision is right for you, please ask for advice.

Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney

As dementia progresses it might eventually reach a point where you need to help with decision-making. Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in advance, while in good health, is a good way to take the worry out of who will step in to manage affairs later on. It also reassures the person living with dementia that they have someone they trust who’s ready to take on this role. They can still make all of their own decisions. An LPA is in place just in case support is needed.

Not all financial decisions need to fall upon the Power of Attorney. It completely depends on how dementia is impacting the person’s ability to make decisions. For example, if they’re still able to manage their day-to-day finances, then a Power of Attorney might only be needed for more complex money matters.

Once a person has lost mental capacity, family members or friends aren’t able to apply for a LPA. They’ll need to apply for a deputyship which can be more expensive, difficult and time-consuming.

Find out more about setting up an LPA

Helping with regular payments

The person living with dementia might have difficulties remembering to pay regular payments which could lead to unpaid debts. If you notice this has happened, their doctor or other healthcare professional can help if it’s likely to have a detrimental effect on their credit.

To avoid this, try to set up Direct Debits and automate payments for their bills and any regular payments. If you are able to visit, keep an eye on the post, particularly any unopened envelopes.

Setting up a third party mandate or linked account

This is quicker than setting up an LPA, and is a good option for those who want help with some of the simpler actions like setting up Direct Debits or monitoring spending.

Alzheimer’s and dementia can affect a person’s decision-making, so they might buy things they don’t need, or repeatedly make the same purchases.

If you have an LPA, you can cancel credit cards and any overdraft facility to stop running up debt. If you don’t have an LPA, you can discuss setting up a third party mandate on their bank account, so you can help monitor the accounts.

You can link accounts at HL which acts very much like a third party mandate. Find out more about linking your account.

Avoiding scams

Dementia can impact how you understand information and relationships with people. It’s a sad fact that fraudsters tend to target those who’re older or in vulnerable circumstances.

You can set up a separate bank account to limit the money they have access to. You can also make it harder for scammers to approach them with a call blocker for their phone, and by signing up to a telephone and mailing preference service to cut down on junk mail and nuisance calls.

Visit our security centre to find out more about avoiding scams.

Misplacing money or wallets

It’s easy to forget or misplace keys, cash, bags, wallets or purses. For those living with dementia it’s also common to forget what money they’ve spent or where they’ve put it and understandably they become stressed and confused. This can unfortunately lead to mistrust between them and loved ones.

Try to ensure they don’t carry too much cash. If you have an LPA, you can take the same amount of money out of the bank on the same day each week. People living with dementia benefit from routine and it can even help them to be independent for longer. They can then take a small sum with them each day and importantly manage their spending themselves.

It’s worth them keeping a cash book too, where they can note what they spend. That will make it easier to keep track of where money has been spent. They should also have a ‘safe place’ where a wallet or purse is kept when they’re at home. Make sure it’s where they can easily see it, so they can reassure themselves regularly that nothing has been stolen.

Forgetting or sharing PINs

If the person you’re helping is having trouble remembering their PIN for their bank account they might write it down, and end up sharing it either deliberately or accidentally.

You can talk to their bank and arrange for them to have a card that lets them spend with their signature. When contacting the bank over the phone it’ll help if you’re both present for the call.

Support for you and support for them

The Alzheimer’s Society have lots of support on their website for people caring for someone living with dementia. They’re there to help you so get in touch if you need some guidance or support.

You can also contact their online community talking point where you can share and read about other people’s experiences.

If you need to speak to someone straight away you can contact their dementia connect support line on 0333 150 3456. Whether this is to ask questions, get advice or just for someone to talk to, they’re there to help.

Organisations that can offer support

The local authority of the person you care for might be able to help you care more effectively, you can find their details on the Gov.uk website. Here are some other organisations who can also help:

  • NHS – A guide to social care

  • Carers UK – Expert advice, information and support

  • Gov.uk – Information on Government services and allowances for carers

  • Money Advice Service – Advice for paying for the cost of care and managing money

Find out more about supporting someone else with their finances

Looking after someone else’s finances can be overwhelming enough without having to deal with these difficult times as well.

Our financial advisers could help so why not find out more about the services we offer.

Find out more about financial advice

Webinar – register your interest

You can also join us and other clients at our free webinar next month (date to be confirmed). We’ll talk to you about getting to grips with the investing basics and how you can apply this when investing for someone else – it should give you the confidence to turn their financial goals into a plan. No personal advice is given as part of the webinar.

Sign up to receive details on our upcoming webinar.

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    Important notes

    This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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