The ability to handle personal financial matters, which becomes an increasing challenge for many people as Parkinson’s disease progresses. There are several facets to this. One is the simple logistics of keeping up with financial tasks such as paying household bills, managing shopping expenses such as for groceries, and filing medical insurance or medicare claims. These tasks can be daunting enough without the limitations Parkinson’s disease imposes, particularly for older people.
The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are another dimension, often making the physical actions of opening envelopes, writing checks, and preparing payments for mailing difficult. As well, anti-parkinson’s medications often impair alertness, and the disease process itself includes cognitive impairment that can range from barely perceptible to significant. The person may write checks for more money than is in the account or for the wrong amount.
Daily money management is also an issue of independence. Most adults are accustomed to managing their personal affairs and do not recognize that health problems interfere with their abilities to continue doing so. Sometimes the focus on maintaining health is so intense that other aspects of daily living are shoved aside. It is beneficial for someone the person with Parkinson’s disease trusts, such as a spouse or adult child, to help manage daily finances. This process can be collaborative, so the person with Parkinson’s remains an active participant in daily affairs for as long as it is practical and does not feel “taken over.”
For the person who receives regular payments such as those from a pension, retirement fund, or Social Security, banking services such as direct deposit and automatic bill payment can be efficient and effective ways to manage expenses that are consistent and predictable. Some banks do not charge for bill payment services when the account also has direct deposit; others charge a small fee. The person must still deal with unpredictable expenses such as medical costs and payment for groceries and such, but generally automatic deposit and payment programs cover the important basics. To make sure that there always is enough money in the account to cover automatic payments, it is a good idea to maintain a separate checking account for other uses. Some care management and senior services companies offer daily money management assistance among the services they sell. For a fee, the company manages bank accounts and pays regular bills. It is essential to make certain such a company is appropriately licensed and bonded.