Financial Considerations for Those Facing Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects over five million people in the United States. Due to the aging population, over 150 million people worldwide are projected to have Alzheimer’s disease by 2050 unless a cure is found.

Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or those married or related to a person with Alzheimer’s disease face multiple short-term and long-term decisions. Whether you’re addressing your diagnosis or have a close family member diagnosed with this difficult condition, considering these financial factors can help you plan appropriately for the future.

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

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People with Alzheimer’s disease can experience cognitive, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. They may have difficulty following conversations and understanding information. It’s common for people with who suffer from cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to be forgetful and confused. Patients may also struggle to recall everyday items’ names and forget how to perform routine tasks.

Hallucinations, paranoia, and depression are common psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This disease can also cause mood swings, anger, and frustration. Some people with Alzheimer’s may struggle with loneliness and apathy, in addition to their memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive decline.

The cognitive and psychological symptoms of this disease can cause behavioral changes. Patients with Alzheimer’s may be unable to care for themselves and begin wandering. As a result, they may also be irritable and aggressive. All of these symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be frightening and frustrating for a caregiver, which is why it’s critical to look for sources of help for both the patient and the caregiver.

Does Alzheimer’s get worse over time?

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Alzheimer’s progresses through several stages. Initially, individuals may function typically without symptoms. As they age, they may have age-appropriate memory issues. An example would be setting their glasses or car keys down and forgetting where they put them. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the next stage of the disease. People with Alzheimer’s will struggle to learn new skills. Most patients aren’t diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until they reach stage four, when the patient is unable to perform daily activities, such as cooking dinner. As patients progress through the stages of Alzheimers, they will have more difficulty recalling information, caring for themselves, and communicating.

How does Alzheimer’s affect your ability to manage your finances?

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People who have Alzheimer’s begin struggling with financial matters in stage four. They may be unable to make calculations and forget to pay bills. People with this disease will increasingly struggle to keep track of transactions, record accurate data, and make informed decisions. As a guideline, it’s a good idea for a caregiver, such as a spouse, to consider obtaining power of attorney over the patient’s financial commitments (bank accounts, mortgage loans, or anything else) during the middle stage of the disease so that they can take care of finances even when their loved one is suffering from late stage Alzheimer’s disease and is unable to make financial decisions.

What are variable home loan rates?

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Variable home loan rates refer to loans that have a fluctuating interest rate. If the interest rate goes down, the borrower’s monthly payments will decrease. Homeowners can benefit from a variable home loan rate if the economy performs poorly, and interest rates remain low. When the economy is strong, there’s greater demand for credit access because more people want to buy material goods and open or expand businesses. When the demand for credit increases, the interest rate also increases, causing payments on variable rate loans to rise.

How do variable and fixed home loan rates affect your budget?

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When an individual takes out a variable rate mortgage, their mortgage payment can change every month. With fixed home loan rates, homeowners pay the same amount each month for their loan’s duration. People with fixed home loan rates don’t need to worry about being unable to afford their payments because of interest rate increases. However, individuals who decide to move may have to pay termination fees to end their loan contract.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s may find it easier to manage their finances if their payment amounts remain the same. Even with memory loss issues and worsened cognitive skills, if the monthly payment doesn’t change it’s easier to keep track of. As the disease progresses, however, the patient may need to relocate due to their medical needs.

Individuals diagnosed with stage four Alzheimer’s typically have two years before they progress to stage five and may be able to enter secure a fixed home loan rate that’s locked in for two years. If they remain in their home for that time, they may be able to avoid paying penalties to end their contract early and sell their home.

Who can make financial decisions for you if your condition deteriorates?

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People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should assign someone as their durable power of attorney. A person with durable power of attorney can manage the person’s finances. They will have access to the person’s bank accounts and can cash checks on their behalf. They can also make monthly payments on a home loan when the patient has lost the necessary executive function to do so, or choose to refinance if that makes more sense. Appointing a durable power of attorney can ensure your bills are paid, that you receive financial benefits you qualify for, and that possessions — including your home — can be sold if necessary.

If you or a family member has Alzheimer’s you can protect yourself and your family from financial hardship and legal complications by taking the legal steps required to ensure someone has the authority to handle financial transactions and decisions.