Some 15% of people with dementia have been victims of financial abuse - including scams and mis-selling, according to The Alzheimer's Society.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and it now kills more people in this country than heart disease.
Here, Hargreaves Lansdown personal finance analyst Sarah Coles outlines 15 points to help clients and their loved ones protect their finances.
She said: "Already 850,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia. The Alzheimer's Society estimates there'll be over a million people living with it in 2025 and over two million by 2051.
"Dementia makes it more difficult for people to stay on top of their finances, and as the disease progresses, they may forget to pay bills, run up accidental debts, become a victim of scammers, or fall out with their loved ones over money misunderstandings.
"If someone you care for is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there are some vital steps you need to take to protect them. And there are a few things we should all do as soon as possible, so that whatever happens, we can make life easier for those who care for us, and those we leave behind."
15 steps to protect someone's finances
As soon as possible
1. You don't have to wait for someone to get ill to start protecting them. Ideally, before the first signs of illness, everyone should set up a lasting power of attorney (LPA). There are two kinds - one for health and one for finances. They let you pick someone to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to.
2. Help them get their finances in order. Draw up a list of all the organisations they have accounts with - plus account and customer numbers, and keep it in a safe place. It's also worth simplifying matters by consolidating accounts - including savings and investments, so it's easier to keep track of and manage.
3. Check they've made a will. If they haven't, their estate will pass according to strict rules of intestacy, which may not be in everyone's best interests, or reflect what they wanted. If they made one a while ago, make certain it is suitable for their current circumstances and wishes.
Straight after early diagnosis
4. Help the dementia sufferer to automate as much of their day-to-day finances as possible, including paying bills by direct debit. That way they can forget about them without risking having the gas or electricity cut off.
5. Ask them to contact the bank and ask for a third party mandate, so you can make calls and operate the account on their behalf. They can also contact utility companies and nominate you as a third party, so the firms will talk to you about the accounts too.
6. Check what savings and investment companies would require if you needed to use the lasting power of attorney, so you are prepared. Some will simply ask to see a copy of the power of attorney document, signed by a solicitor. Others will require you to fill in a form, and some will ask to see the original power of attorney document each time you have dealings with them. They may also ask for specific documents, including utility bills, passports or driving licences, so it's useful to know where all these things are.
7. Stay in frequent communication. This gives the dementia sufferer a chance to raise any concerns - and puts you in a better position to spot any problems.
If diagnosis comes later - or as a sufferer deteriorates
8. Register the power of attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian, so you can take over the day-to-day running of their finances. It will also enable you to make bigger decisions when you need to - such as how to pay for care.
9. If your loved one hasn't had the chance to set up an LPA, you can apply to the Court of Protection - either for a one-off order, or to appoint you as a deputy to make financial or welfare decisions. This can be more complicated and expensive than an LPA, but means you can make key decisions.
10. Cancel credit cards. This reduces the risk of the sufferer getting confused or misled into running up debts. Talk to the bank and cancel any overdraft facility too. You can also set up a separate bank account to limit the funds they have access to. Sadly sufferers can be a target for scammers, so it's important to lower the stakes if they make a mistake.
11. To protect them from doorstep scammers, put a chain on the door, and make a sign for the back of the door advising them not to open it to anyone who doesn't have an appointment.
12. Get a call blocker for their phone, which will either block incoming calls that are not from recognised numbers, or forward them to a relative or friend.
13. Sign up to the telephone preference service and the mailing preference service, to cut down the junk mail and nuisance calls they receive.
14. If your loved one wants to manage things like grocery shopping, there's a risk they will lose track of where they put cash, or forget spending it and worry that someone has taken it. You can persuade them to use a debit card instead: ask the bank for a chip and signature card, so they don't have to remember a PIN.
15. If only cash will do, it's best for someone with dementia to take the same amount of money out of the bank on the same day each week, then bring it home and only take a small sum with them each day. It's also worth them keeping a cash book, where they note what they spend. That will make it easier to keep track.
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