Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease: Your Easy-to-Use Guide from the National Institute on Aging

Planning Ahead—Health, Legal, and Financial Issues

When someone is diagnosed with AD, you need to start getting his or her health, legal, and financial affairs in order. You want to plan for the future, if possible, with help from the person while he or she can still make decisions. You need to review all of his or her health, legal, and financial information to make sure it reflects the person's wishes.

Update health care, legal, and financial information

Check to see that you have the following documents and that they are up to date:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances gives someone the power to make legal and financial decisions for the person with AD
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives someone called a proxy or an agent the power to make health care decisions for the person with AD
  • Living Will states the person's wishes for health care at the end of life
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form tells health care staff that the person does not want them to try to return the heart to a normal rhythm if it stops or is beating unevenly.
  • Will tells how the person wants his or her property and money to be divided among those left behind
  • Living Trust tells someone called a trustee how to distribute a person's property and money

Check for money problems

will and other legal documents

People with AD often have problems managing their money. As the disease gets worse, a person may try to hide financial problems to protect his or her independence. Or, the person may not realize that he or she is losing the ability to handle money matters. Someone should check each month to see how the person is doing. This person might be a family member or the trustee.

Protect the person from fraud

woman with glasses reading paper

People with AD also may be victims of financial abuse or "scams" by dishonest people. There can be telephone, mail, email, or in-person scams. Sometimes, the person behind the scam is a "friend" or family member.

Scams can take many forms, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Get-rich-quick offers
  • Phony offers of prizes or home or auto repairs
  • Insurance scams
  • Threats

Here are some signs that the person with AD is not managing money well or has become a victim of a scam:

  • The person seems afraid or worried when he or she talks about money.
  • Money is missing from the person's bank account.
  • Signatures on checks or other papers don't look like the person's signature.
  • Bills are not being paid, and the person doesn't know why.
  • The person's will has been changed without his or her permission.
  • The person's home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it.
  • Things that belong to you or the person with AD, such as clothes or jewelry, are missing from the home.
  • The person has signed legal papers (such as a will, a power of attorney, or a joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers mean.

Publication Date: January 2017
Page Last Updated: April 28, 2017