The Link between Dementia and Mismanaged Finances

Eureka! What I recognized anecdotally for years is now published research that concluded financial symptoms of cognitive issues are surfacing up to six years before a formal clinical diagnosis.


You are noticing changes in your own thinking, or you are seeing changes in a loved one that is concerning, but the primary care doctor just reassures you that you are “fine.” I witnessed this all play out with my parents for years. By the time we finally had a formal diagnosis, both of my parents were diagnosed with MODERATE forms of dementia. Dad they believed to be Alzheimer’s and my mother had primarily Vascular Dementia.

If you are having more difficulty with bill pay and managing the checkbook balance, it is time to share that with a loved one and your primary care physician.

Many financial mistakes were made for many years preceding this, including the decision to stop paying for long-term care insurance. Most of my Dad’s retirement accounts were unattended and forgotten.

For more insight into this visit this Washington Post Story.

After living the journey with my parents, and now supporting individuals and families as a daily money manager, I have seen and cleaned up many of these issues. It is rewarding, but sometimes takes my breath away, when I calculate how much money was wasted or lost over the years that could have been used to help pay for their care.

The research primary looked at payment delinquency. If someone is missing bill payments, when they were prompt payers before, this change could be a sign of a cognitive issue.

If you are experiencing this, or are having trouble making your checkbook balance when that has been a lifelong habit, it’s time to share this with a loved one as well as your primary care doctor.

The earlier you identify an issue, the more options and control you can have over it’s future course. Believed.

Savoring Your Time as an Adult Child

I had a conversation today with a woman who is a Certified Caregiving Consultant named Bobbi Carducci. She and her husband Mike cared for Rodger Carducci (Mike’s father) for 7 years. Bobbi and Mike host thought leaders on their weekly podcast who share invaluable insights and helpful tips on the challenges caregivers face.

It’s easy to look back on your time as a caregiver and imagine all the places you could have managed differently. I let that baggage go in the middle of my own caregiving journey because I wanted to keep moving forward. The second-guessing of my choices started to paralyze me.

Today, I can freely admit the one thing I wish I had done, and considered, was how to better be the daughter. I spent countless hours of my time in my parent’s community chasing down medical team members, making calls about insurance, banking or tax matters.

I wish I would have used that time to just hang out with my parent’s.

Thankfully, my parent’s had planned well and had the resources for me to hire these individuals. Maybe the additional interaction with others would have also provided them with more engagement. I will never know, and can’t change the past for myself, but I can share with you now how I look back on my time as the primary family caregiver.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Trying to figure it out is exhausting. You can start by listening to a few episodes of Bobbi and Mike’s Podcast Rodger That.

I frequently and adamantly recommend you schedule a call* with a local Aging Life Care Manager. In minutes they can help you navigate the maze of medical options and choices for your loved ones. Lastly, if you need help figuring out how your loved ones finances are structured, or if you have concerns about fraud or abuse, contact* a Daily Money Manager. Encouraged.

* Please use the tools on the sites to find these professionals to INTERVIEW them and make sure they are a good fit for you and your loved one. Some people like high-energy while others find a calm demeanor a better fit. The best place to start is to ask your Estate Lawyer, Financial Advisor, and even your Accountant. They will most likely have other clients who have used these resources.

Cognitive Life Expectancy and Women

dealwithitIn 2010, a 65-year-old woman could expect to live 14.1 years with good cognition, 3.9 years with mild cognitive impairment and 2.3 years with dementia — according to Eileen Crimmins, AARP chair of gerontology at the University of Southern California’s Leonard David School of Gerontology. I love data, and a recent article has many key facts that should encourage us to better plan for the rest of our lives.

The generation above us is failing. I saw it with my parents who planned well conventionally, but had no idea their bodies would outlast their brains. The stats sometimes lead us to believe it is not happening at the level of frequency I see it happening to my friends families.

We all should prepare for the worst, be it our bodies outliving our brains, or our brains outliving our bodies. Most likely, we are all going to need assistance before we take a celestial departure from this earth.

The stats on what a 65 year old woman can expect, were one of many key facts in an article by Judith Graham Research find seniors seem to enjoy longer brain health than in the past.

Other notable key facts:

  • Of Americans 65 and older, about 20 to 25 percent have mild cognitive impairment while about 10 percent have dementia, according to Kenneth Langa, an expert in the demography of aging and a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan
  • Notably, college graduates can expect to spend more than 80 percent of their lifetime after age 65 with good cognition, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Texas at Austin . For people who didn’t complete high school, that drops to less than 50 percent.
  • A new study from researchers at the Rand Corp. and the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that 10.5 percent of U.S. adults age 65 and older had dementia in 2012, compared with 12 percent in 2000.
    • The percent of people affected is declining which is great news, but the bulge in those over 65 means that more people in total will have dementia.

A few facts can go a long way. I hope these facts will help you and those you love plan well for the rest of your lives. Shared. 

The Conversation to Start with Your Family

Take the first step and begin the dialogue with your family and friends.

A call after 10:00 PM never brings good news. My mom found my dad on the floor and asked me what she should do. I told her to call 911 and I’d meet her at the hospital. During intake we were asked for medical history, medications, and details about my dad’s health that neither my mom nor I could confidently provide. Sadly, my dad just had one drink too many and had passed out. My parents were both in generally good health, but this first event was a wake-up call and I realized I wasn’t prepared to be the advocate my parents might need one day.

When I got a call from the Emergency Room (ER) about my dad the second time, I was well prepared. After his first visit, I realized that even though the hospital had electronic medical records for him, the medical team will turn to family to understand medical history, medications, and complaints. They don’t have (or take) the time to read the records they already have. This time my dad had broken his hip playing racquetball and was going to need surgery.

After the first visit to the ER, I made notes on my dad’s medical history and medications and I started to carry copies of both my parents’ durable and medical powers of attorney on my smartphone. The medical power of attorney gives me permission to represent my parents for medical needs and the durable power of attorney gives me the ability to access and make decisions on my parents’ financial assets. Thankfully, my parents had done their estate planning and told me where I could find these papers should they be needed. Having this completed before it was needed made a huge difference for me as their adult child when I needed to step in and help.

Before these medical events happened to my parents, my husband and I viewed retirement planning as a financial plan. While the finances are important, I now know that the likelihood of having a health crisis gets greater and greater as we age. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, 7 out of 10 Americans turning 65 today will need three or more years of long-term-care services before they die. That is three years that someone will need to help with care as well as manage some portion of your personal assets.

Apparently many Americans aren’t prepared or planning for an early retirement or ready when a crisis strikes. A 2014 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 49 percent of retirees surveyed had retired earlier than they had planned. The survey found that many Americans find themselves retiring unexpectedly, with 61 percent citing health problems or disability and another 18 percent citing care for a spouse or another family member.

Information is a very powerful tool

Most families are not prepared when they need to step in and help mom or dad in the face of a crisis or medical issue, and the consequences of being unprepared can be severe among families—causing chaos, confusion, and loss of money. Parents may tell you the plans are in the file cabinet or safe, but vague directions can make it stressful to try and locate the documents. More often, you need access to information like medical history and medications as well as information on how to manage the household and pay bills until a parent can get back on their feet. Finding that information can be overwhelming.

Today, more than $56 billion is sitting with state and federal treasurers because family members didn’t know about bank, retirement, and insurance accounts. If mom or dad doesn’t get back on their feet, the accounts sit dormant and eventually get turned over to the proper authorities to hold until claimed.

For all these reasons, starting the conversation with mom and dad is important to begin well before it’s needed. Some ways to begin the dialogue include:

  • Ask them how they plan on spending their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Where do they want to live and how do they want to spend their time?
  • Request recommendations on how to approach estate planning. When did they do theirs and how did they decide who should be their advocate if one of them is unable to speak for the other?
  • Share a story of a friend or colleague who faced a difficult family health issue and talk about how your family might have handled the situation differently.

As you have these discussions, hopefully you will begin to see how your parents view and expect to spend their retirement. With almost half of adults having to retire earlier than expected, and 70 percent of those over 65 years of age needing some form of long-term care, one of the easiest ways to help mom and dad realize they need a plan if they don’t have one in place could mean that you lead by example and share your plans with them first.

What matters?

The two most important documents for anyone over the age of 18 years are a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. They are the tools a loved one will have to use to help you while you are living and can be invaluable in the crunch of a medical emergency. Before my son leaves for college we are getting these documents in place. Without a medical power of attorney, even as the parent and one that pays the medical insurance, a doctor is unable to discuss my son’s health with me.

Information is the greatest asset you can provide to those that would step in and help you. I hope you will have a chance to begin the conversation with your parents to understand how they plan to spend the rest of their lives.

For a free guide that lists the key documents, accounts, and details you should have organized for your loved ones from the best-selling book MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life, visit:

How to Grow your Business and Your Family

Listen to the interview where Mary Kathryn Johnson, host of Parent Entrepreneur Power, talks with Kay H. Bransford, best-selling author of MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life where they discuss growing a business while raising a family and caring for parents.

Determined to help other families avoid the issues and roadblocks she faced, Kay launched MemoryBanc. Her parents had planned, but when their health started to fail, so did their best made plans.

Tune in to learn how this mom-preneur turned lemons into lemon-aid.

Seventy percent of American’s over 65 will need long-term care

70%Wow. Ignoring the facts won’t make them go away. They seem unbelievable.

The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information reported that about 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives, over 40 percent in a nursing home. Learn more by visiting their website and to learn more about how you can plan.

The same report cited the averages: Those who are 65 today will need long-term care services for three years. Women need care for longer (on average 3.7 years) than do men (on average 2.2 years). While about one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care services, 20 percent of them will need care for more than five years.

The most important thing you can do today (at ANY age) is set up a Durable Power-of-Attorney. There may be situations in which even your spouse needs this document. Check with a local estate attorney.

Having your estate planning and financial plan in order is important, but more important is making sure your accounts, access codes and personal papers can be easily found by those who may need to step in and help you. Until our late 80s, we are more likely to suffer a temporary incapacity than we are to die. CNNMoney reported than more than $58 billion in unclaimed money and assets is sitting with state and federal treasurers — it’s the stuff that got lost in the shuffle of a move, personal crisis as well as death.

Here is a link to the full list of papers so you can do it yourself. If you want to be prompted through the process in a workbook format, you can order a MemoryBanc Register. Use the term “Reader” for a 10% discount on your order. Alerted.

Are you a Giver or a Taker?

givetakeI have revisited this question in my personal life over the last three decades—as I’m evaluating others and as I’m taking a close look at myself—to determine in which group I belong. I remember marveling at how much I seemed to soften after my son was born, but even that was nothing compared to the change I’ve seen in myself as I have transitioned to being the primary caregiver for my parents. In both instances, I think of myself as a giver.

But I’ve realized over the years that so much of what we do to manage our lives and our modern-day habits has unintentionally turned many of us into takers. Our need for independence and privacy, mixed with our desire to keep our online “lives” secure, means that many of us are unwilling to share information that would allow someone else to step in and help us if we needed it, even temporarily. By making it so difficult for those around us to help—and by refusing to acknowledge that we may need their help—we become takers (unintentionally).

Let me use three recent examples from new clients to illustrate my point:

  • A single woman in her 30s and a small business owner has a car accident. Her partner can’t access her email or voicemail because she did not share usernames and passcodes, making it difficult to run the business in her absence. Her friends have to beg the apartment owner for a key to her home so they can get in to feed her cat while she’s in the hospital.
  • A married man in his 60s has a stroke. His wife has never managed their checking account, nor has she ever paid a bill. Their daughter lives nearby and can help mom navigate the banking and cash flow while her dad recuperates.
  • A married woman in her 40s and the mother of two has a heart attack. She did not share the username or passcode to the family’s online bill paying sites, so her husband has to patiently wait for the final bill notices and phone calls in order to pay many of their accounts. Thankfully, her friend knew the name of the family’s pediatrician, so the husband wasn’t worried about caring for the kids’ needs as their mother recovered.

Could any of these scenarios happen to you? When you are the one who steps in to assist someone else in need, you realize very quickly that the lack of documentation and planning has created a very large burden for you. But it seems many of us are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

The one thing I recommend you do today: document and share the location of your username and passcode to your online bill pay accounts and your primary email account. View this as a simple life maintenance task – just as you would get your teeth cleaned or get an annual physical.

Not sure where to start? I’ve made the process easy with the Jumpstart Edition of the MemoryBanc Register. This will lead you step-by-step through the entire documentation process. I also recommend  speaking with an estate lawyer to get a durable power of attorney for your small business if you own one, and for your family and friends, so that they can step in and help should you need it.

We are more likely to have a temporary disability than we are to die up through our late 80s. To find out your Personal Disability Quotient, visit this site:

I’m still working on staying in the Giver category. Focused.