Too many dementia sufferers fall victim to fraudsters or even unscrupulous family members, while others struggle to manage their money and run up debts. Families have to make difficult decisions over how to manage their savings and assets, and pay for care. Around 850,000 Britons live with dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. As part of Dementia Action Week, campaigners are urging people to get in touch with family, friends or neighbours with dementia, to see how they can help. Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said many families prefer not to think about dementia but added: “If you have plans in place that will help enormously.”
An incredible 15 per cent of people with dementia have been victims of scams or mis-selling and Coles advised putting a chain on your loved one’s front door with a sign on the back reminding them not to open it to anyone without an appointment.
You can also get a call blocker to divert unfamiliar phone numbers to a relative and sign up to the mailing and telephone preference services to cut down on junk mail and nuisance calls.
Carrying cash can be a worry as sufferers may lose it or forget spending the money. “If you can persuade them to use a debit card instead, ask their bank for a chip and signature card, so they don’t have to remember a PIN,” Coles said.
Residential care costs range from £32,344 to £44,512 a year, depending how much nursing care your relative needs, Laing & Buisson figures show.
Local authorities in England will not help until assets fall below £23,250, and will cover the full cost below £14,250.
Their home is included in this calculation unless they live with a spouse, a close relative aged over 60 or incapacitated, or a dependent relative under 16.
Coles said one option is to buy an immediate needs annuity, which pays a lump sum in return for a guaranteed income for life: “This will cap the total cost of care although if they die soon after you won’t get the full value of the annuity.”
You could rent out their home to part cover nursing home costs or use equity release, although this will erode the value passed onto family members, Coles said.
Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at wealth manager Quilter, urged families to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney which allows them to make key financial and health decisions if a loved one cannot.
“The LPA can lie dormant until you need it, if you ever do,” Griffin said.
National Dementia Helpline provides advice on 0300 222 1122 or visit Alzheimers.org.uk Visit Your Money online at www.express.co.uk/money