“Spotting Dementia Early: Financial Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore”

Roughly 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia today, a number that is expected to rise to 139 million by 2050, according to the World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International.Halfpoint Images/Moment RF/Getty Images


Dementia affects approximately 55 million people globally, a number projected to rise to 139 million by 2050, according to the World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International. Early detection of dementia can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and financial security. This article explores how early signs of dementia can manifest in one’s financial habits and provides insights into managing these challenges.

Financial Disorganization as an Early Warning

When a typically financially responsible family member starts making unusual financial decisions, it may indicate undiagnosed dementia. Researchers from the New York Federal Reserve found that credit scores may decline and payment delinquencies increase up to five years before a dementia diagnosis. These changes can exacerbate financial pressures on households already dealing with the challenges of dementia.

Case Studies Highlighting Financial Mismanagement

Marcey Tidwell, from Bloomington, Indiana, observed her mother’s deteriorating financial management as a sign of dementia. Previously methodical in record-keeping, her mother’s financial records became increasingly disorganized around 2015, indicating the onset of memory issues. Similarly, Karen Lemay from Ottawa, Canada, noticed her father, a former finance executive, accruing unpaid bills and unnecessary expenses, a stark departure from his conservative financial habits. These behavioral changes were early indicators of his dementia.

The Impact of Dementia on Financial Decision-Making

Dementia can lead to impulsive spending, susceptibility to scams, and mismanagement of finances. Jayne Sibley, from the UK, experienced this with both her parents. Her mother, for instance, made unnecessary purchases and fell victim to scams. These behaviors not only drained her resources but also added stress to the family. To address such challenges, Sibley co-founded Sibstar, offering a debit card that allows family caregivers to monitor and control spending for individuals with dementia.

Proactive Financial Planning

Early financial planning can alleviate some of the stress associated with managing the finances of someone with dementia. Establishing a will, designating a medical proxy, and assigning power of attorney are crucial steps. Marcey Tidwell’s family took these steps in 2008, which later eased the management of her mother’s finances as her condition worsened.

Automating Financial Processes

The US National Institute on Aging recommends setting up automated bill payments to minimize financial errors for those with dementia. This proactive measure can ensure bills are paid on time and reduce the risk of financial mismanagement. Tidwell automated her mother’s bill payments in 2018, simplifying the management of her finances.


While early financial mismanagement can be a sign of dementia, taking proactive steps can help manage these challenges. Early planning, automation, and tools like Sibstar can provide financial security and peace of mind for both individuals with dementia and their families. Recognizing these signs early and acting promptly can significantly reduce the financial and emotional burden associated with dementia.

#DementiaAwareness #FinancialHealth #ElderCare #MemoryCare #ProactivePlanning

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