It's Your Money  

Dealing with dementia and its impact on one's finances

Finances and dementia

If your mom suddenly drains her bank account or your dad stops paying his bills, should you be worried?

Yes – but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Odd financial behaviour can be a warning sign for the onset of dementia. People in the early stages of cognitive change often make unusual purchases, change investment habits, hoard cash or accumulate debt.

Managing finances can be a major challenge for the 500,000-plus Canadians living with dementia (this number is expected to almost double by 2031) and their families. Having problems with memory or concentration can make financial transactions — such as paying bills or even buying groceries — extremely difficult.

Cognitive problems also make seniors more at risk of falling for financial scams. The federal government reported that Canadians between ages 60 and 70 lost $94 million between 2014 and 2017 to various scams.

And while people with dementia may find it a struggle to continue to manage their own finances, they may also find it difficult to hand over that responsibility to someone else, even a trusted loved one.

If you suspect dementia, take your loved one to their doctor to get a proper diagnosis and to rule out other causes. Medications and other illnesses can mimic cognitive problems.

Ideally though, you need to take certain steps before you reach this point. Dementia can be very difficult for families to navigate but even just a little planning in advance can help to reduce the stress. I can’t state enough how important it is to have a financial power of attorney in place (plus a will and health representative agreement) – something you need to setup while you’re still capable of making decisions for yourself.

If your family is currently navigating dementia with a loved one, getting proper financial planning advice is very important.

On May 5th, Christine Van Cauwenberghe (Head of Financial Planning at IG Wealth Management) and Dr. Saskia Sivananthan (Chief Research Officer of the Alzheimer Society) are hosting a live, interactive and free webinar entitled “Finances and dementia — advice for the journey.”

During the webinar, Christine and Dr. Saskia will share:

• Advice on managing finances for those living with dementia and their caregivers

• Tips and tools to help with wealth planning for aging Canadians

• Advice for caregivers and people living with dementia

If you want a link to signup for this webinar, send me an email and I can share it with you.

Another great way to get involved is to join the Alzheimer’s Society of BC’s “Walk for Alzheimers” taking place across the province on May 29 and will include walks in Kelowna and Penticton. The purpose of these walks is to raise both money and awareness to create change for people affected by dementia in Canada.

And most important of all, if you or your family is affected in any way, reach out to the Alzheimers Society for some help. Their website is filled with information and links to various support services.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and took over as board chairman in 2019. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations of the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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