Mum with young onset dementia - overspending

Hi everyone.My mum is 62 and has young onset dementia. Due to this she had to stop working as a nurse, but is still able to work 2 days a week in a supermarket. Unfortunately finances are very tight as she still has a mortgage to pay. I give her some money a month, but my siblings and I have noticed she walks to her local supermarket around 5 times a week for something to do (especially worse in lockdown). Some days she will spend only £5 but others around £20. It’s really adding up and her food bills have been over £300 a month. She lives alone and doesn’t eat excessively and we’re struggling to figure out what she spends it on. She may be getting cashback some times. When we ask, she can’t remember what she has bought and the fridge/cupboards don’t look particularly well stocked. She isn’t the most financially savvy (even pre-diagnosis) and so will just buy the same things she knows - eg a particular brand of orange juice even if there are cheaper options

We’ve put a big notice board and one of those magnet shopping lists on the fridge and spent some time going through writing what she needs on the paper and taking it with her, as well as asking her to try to keep receipts but it’s still really difficult. My brother or sister who live closer than me are taking her to aldi once a week now to try to get everything she needs then, in the hope it might cut down a bit. We have LPA for finance and have access to her online bank account.

It’s obviously good for her to get out for a walk, and I don’t want to take away her card as she would struggle with cash but equally don’t want her in a position where she is at the check out with a card that won’t go through as she will get really confused.I spoke to her bank but they didn’t advise much.

Just wondered if anyone else has been through similar or has any words of wisdom/advice they can share? Thank you :slight_smile:

Has Power of Attorney been sorted out?

Hi, Yes we have power of attorney for finance (going to sort out health shortly)


In that case, you need to talk to mum.
My son with learning difficulties has a “Cashplus Gold Card”. I pay money from his savings account every week into this card. When there is no money left on the card, it doesn’t work, no overdraft.
I know you don’t want this to happen to mum, but honestly, it’s the only way. Notes on the fridge etc. probably won’t register.
Accepting all this must be very difficult for you, especially when mum was a nurse.
It sounds like the time if fast approaching when you will need to take total control of her finances, to make sure that all the bills are paid.
Does mum have any sort of pension from her nursing days? Is she claiming Personal Independence Payment now? (I’m not sure if she qualifies at the moment? It really depends on how much support with daily living she needs).
Can she get around safely by herself? Be very careful to claim the Mobility Component if the answer to this at any time before she is 65 is “No”. If she qualifies before 65, she will be entitled to the Mobility Element of PIP for life, after 65 it’s not available at all. One of the biggest injustices in the benefit system.
If mum lives alone, is the property suitable for her future needs. Dishwasher? Tumble dryer? Walk in shower?
Does she have over £23,000 in savings? This is the cut off point for Social Services help as a rule.

Hi sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you need to take control of this now my wife has dementia and in the early days before we really understood what was going on she wasted lots of money. She had over £20,000 in savings, I used to work away from home a lot, all our bills were paid from our joint account and she had a debit card to buy groceries etc, but we discovered she was getting a taxi to the next town to draw money from her savings account and by the time we realized what she was doing she had withdrawn nearly £10,000 with no sign of the money and nothing to show for it. That was about 10 years ago and we still have no idea what she did with the money.

hello Rebecca. Sorry to hear about your Mum’s diagnosis. As others have said you really do need to arrange for her to have a weekly amount available to her so she doesn’t lose the lot.

my friend had to do this with her Dad who had dementia, lived alone and got through many thousands before she realised. he lived 4 hours drive away and she used to visit about every two weeks. Sadly once people know they have money to spend they are on them like vultures. he had people on his door trying to sell him stuff like a sheepskin coat from a charity shop for £2,000. People used to target him in cafes, get chatting and relieve him of money.

My friend thinks as well as being conned out of money, he was probably putting large amounts in collection tins, buying mountains of fresh fruit and veg which he then stored in the bath uneaten so it went rotten and she had to dispose of it next time she visited.

She arranged for all his bills to be paid by direct debit and allowed him £100 a week cash withdrawal and that seemed to work. Prior to that he was withdrawing a couple of thousand pounds and shoving it in a carrier bag so it was anybody’s guess what happened to it.

Hi Bowlingbun! :slightly_smiling_face:. I had never heard of this CashPlus Gold Card you mentioned so have just googled it as I thought it might be good for my daughter. It has lots of shockingly bad reviews. How long have you been using it? At the moment I just give her cash in £10 notes as she doesn’t understand the value of money so if she gave anybody a £20 note they could easily short change her.

M has £10 paid into it every week. If he tries to spend too much, it just doesn’t work. It took him a while to accept this restriction, but it works for him now.
In theory his HSBC debit card wouldn’t go overdrawn, it was for staff use, but they overspent and one agency clocked up £150 of overdrawn fees in one month, as it went in and out of credit!!! That agency didn’t last long!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for your replies and honesty. I think you are all right and we need to take the next step as it’s just stressful at the moment waiting to see how much she might spend next. I think the idea of a set limit card sounds a good step forwards and also limiting her access to withdrawing cash as she does his sometimes too we have no way of tracking.

She has a pension we had to change to a drawdown/flexible pension as she needs it now to help pay with living costs. Does anyone know whether in this format it counts as savings or not? As It’s her only saved money but ideally she shouldn’t even be using it yet, but we had no choice as she had debt we didn’t know about that needed paying off too :frowning:

I have applied for PIP for her, but her pension will only last another 8 years or so at this rate and so finances are a big concern, so it does feel like every little thing we do now will help.

Thanks again,

Hi Rebecca
Sad to read your posts.
I’m not sure if this will help.
My lovely husband had vascular dementia. He forgot how to handle money, ( more than capable pre dementia). He kept maxing his credit card, and when maxed the company would up the limit. Not even a query when he decided we needed another car at £5000!!He was confused when speaking to the company about repayments but still they carried on letting him spend. When I eventually I was able to take over his financial situation I fought hard and long. Threatened ombudsman etc. The company even asked to speak to him when he was in a nursing home and capacity was gone.I questioned them as to why they kept allowing him to spend, when clearly he was losing capacity and so on. Eventually they had to admit they were at fault and most was refunded. Recorded calls were a blessing when the higher ups heard the conversations between him and main staff.
Is there any way you can challenge your mother’s bank?
I’m sorry if you can’t but had to say just in case.