There are many reasons a person could begin to have difficulty with money.
For example, a person with dementia may have problems with concentration, memory and thinking, which can cause some aspects of dealing with money to become difficult.
They may forget to pay bills, or they may begin to find it hard to work out how much money they need for something and have trouble differentiating between the different notes and coins.
Someone who has a physically impairment, such as arthritis or Parkinson’s, may struggle to handle cash, especially smaller coins.
Here are some suggestions that may help someone when dealing with money:
- Only carry the amount of cash they need for that day (if known). If some of their weekly purchases are the same (eg newspaper every day, milk on Wednesdays) it may help to put the exact amount required in an envelope and label it so it can be readily available for those things.
- Start a cash book and keep receipts so they can keep track of money they have spent.
- Ask banks for notes in smaller denominations; cash points usually only issue £20 or £10 notes. It may help the person to withdraw money at the counter and ask for smaller amounts to keep track of change they are subsequently given
- If they still drive, keep small amounts of change in the car (hidden out of public view), to pay for things like parking.
Chip & PIN, Contactless payments and Smart Technology
- If the person is unable to remember a four-digit pin, speak to their bank as they may be able to issue them with a chip and signature card instead.
- If they are unable to sign their name the bank might be able to give them a card that identifies them in other ways (such as a photo card)
- A contactless card requires no PIN or signature, it is simply held over the keypad to pay. However, it is important to keep it secure – if the person is at risk of losing their card it would be easy for someone else to use it (in which case contact the bank straight away for the card to be cancelled).
- Smart devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and certain watches, can be used to make contactless payments and work in the same way as a card – the device is held over the keypad. Again, there are some risks with this if the person is at risk of losing their device. You can usually speak to your bank for advice on using contactless payments through either a card or smart device.
- Consider asking the bank to set a limit for individual transactions on their credit or debit cards.
Direct debits and standing orders
- A direct debit is an instruction to the bank to automatically pay an amount of money and can be set up on most regular bills, including gas, electricity and water. This can help them keep track of paying bills as the money goes out automatically and they don’t have to deal with payments each time. The amount that goes out each month could vary depending on the amount of the bill. Companies will usually be able to help set these up.
- A standing order is similar but the instruction to their bank is to pay a specific amount of money regularly and the amount cannot be changed without their say so. It may be helpful to set up for payments that stay the same, such as rent.
If you have a joint bank account with the person you are caring for it would be worth thinking about the future and how their illness/disability may affect your accounts. Some banks may ‘freeze’ the account if one of the account holders loses the ability/mental capacity to manage it until you have the legal power to act on their behalf. This may involve getting a lasting power of attorney (further details below).
If they have an individual bank account and need help to manage it, they can request a ‘third-party mandate’ from their bank, which allows you, or someone else, to manage the account on their behalf. However, this is only valid whilst they have the capacity to manage their own account. If they lose that capacity the third-party mandate will cease.
In cases such as this it may be useful to consider power of attorney options whilst they are able to make those decisions. Speak to your bank to get advice on your bank accounts.
Power of attorney
As a carer you may want to consider talking with the person you care for about obtaining a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA is a legal document that allows the person you care for to appoint someone (over the age of 18) that they trust to make decisions on their behalf when they no longer wish to or lack the mental capacity to do so.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Property and financial affairs – gives you the power to make decisions about your loved one’s finances and property. This could include managing a bank or building society account, paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension or selling their home.
- Health and welfare – gives you the power to make decisions about things like medical care, moving into a care home or refusing or consenting to treatment.
If the person you care for wishes to set up an LPA, you need to do this through the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). This can be done via their website www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/make-lasting-power by either completing the online forms or downloading and printing the forms, alternatively you can phone the OPG on 0300 4560300 for further information and advice.
If you need further help or advice, there are a number of organisations you can contact.
A charity with local offices offering support on benefits, housing and future planning
0800 144 8848
For information specific to Dorset
Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help
0808 802 2000