Mismanaging money is a common problem in people who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Memory impairment can unfortunately impact our accuracy with our finances. Have you noticed money errors now and then? Here are some safeguards people diagnosed with MCI can put in place to help themselves stay protected and financially safe, while also aiming to maintain independence as much as possible. If you’ve been diagnosed with MCI, we encourage to you consider putting some of these plans in place, even if you haven’t had any problems managing finances.
1). Limit use of credit cards and ATM cards and consider a prepaid credit card or having a limited amount of cash on hand instead. Do you really need to carry all of your credit cards in your purse or wallet? If you've had any difficulty misplacing items, or forgetting your wallet/purse, that old habit may actually make it easier to loose them. Further, discuss with your care partner what is a safe amount of money to carry with you.
2). Involve a trusted loved one or finance professional in supervision of payment of bills and other expenses. Consider adding that individual onto your accounts so that they can help you when needed (bank accounts, utilities, mortgage, other financial accounts). This person can help keep an eye out for mistakes and let you know if frequent errors occur. If you have already noticed yourself making financial mistakes this may be your signal that it is time to get assistance and/or turn over some financial management to someone else.
3). Be on the lookout for mail ,email, and phone financial scams. If you are contacted by a source that you are not familiar with, and do not routinely do business with, please discuss it with a trusted family member or friend. Do not send any money or give any personal information to unknown sources, even if it looks or sounds official. There are several Medicare, IRS, fake charities, law enforcement, and sweepstakes etc. scams, so protect yourself against fraud and identity theft by double checking the source with someone you trust. The IRS puts out a “dirty dozen” list of scams for taxpayers to be aware of on their website: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/dirty-dozen
4). Consider completing a durable financial power of attorney document. This document allows you to give financial decision making power to someone you trust in the event you are not able to make financial decisions. Lawyers who specializes in elder law and financial and estate planning can also help you complete this document.
5). Think about creating a retirement budget, or revising your existing one if you already have one, with your care partner and/or a financial advisor that includes your health care costs, basic living expenses, recreational expenses, and unforeseen expenses. This can help relieve any future financial worries and maintain good spending habits.