Credit cards, purse or wallet, and dementia. How do you as the caregiver take care of the money management? How can you lessen the chances of a lost or forgotten wallet or purse?

an open wallet with bills hanging out of it laying on the ground

I have helpful suggestions this month regarding your loved one with dementia.

This time, I’m giving suggestions regarding wallets, purses, and credit cards. You can check out my other suggestions by signing up for my freebie below. 

One of the first indicators you might notice with your dementia patient is that they are having difficulty with checkbooks, money balancing, writing checks, etc. See this post for what I noticed with my mom. 

purses and dementia

At some point (I can’t remember exactly when) along Mom’s dementia journey I realized that there was a pretty good chance that she would put her purse down and walk away from it or lose/misplace it completely.

She was already close – I had seen her put her purse on the counter at a local department store then walk away to look at something. Good thing I was near as I grabbed her purse and followed her.

All I could think of was how tedious it would be to have to cancel all the cards, etc that were in the purse.

That incident was the end of Mom’s big purse.

I scouted around the house and found a small makeup bag with a zipper and a strap that could go around her wrist. Best of all – it was yellow! Mom’s favorite color. So her “purse” was now the makeup bag and it worked just fine.

The purse was big enough to put her lipstick, her driver’s license/state ID, the Medicare card, a house key, her flip phone (while she could still remember how to use it), toothpicks, money, one credit card and some misc things, but not big enough for a wallet.

That was okay. She didn’t need to carry all her credit cards at one time. The rest of the stuff from her purse went into the “catchall” drawer in the kitchen. If we went to a department store, I just grabbed her credit card for that store and stuck it in her purse or put it in mine so she could use it.

Mom carried her checkbook in that little yellow purse for a while until she got to the point that a checking account was just too hard for her to manage. It was a tight fit!

Wallets and Dementia

I can’t speak for the male side of things regarding men, wallets, and dementia.

To me, the same applies. Take out all non-essential cards. I’d want to have the bare minimum left in the wallet in case it gets left behind or misplaced somewhere.

Besides, think of the benefits for a guy with not having such a thick wallet in their back pocket! 

Lost or dropped open wallet laying on ground with bills hanging out

Credit Cards

With Mom having that one credit card in her little yellow purse, I wanted to make sure there was some way to notify us in case the card was lost and someone tried to charge something.

Since I was an authorized user on her account (see this post) and kept track of her account using online banking, I put an alert on her card for charges over $1.00. I know that amount isn’t high and resulted in an email for every charge but hey, if a strange charge DID show up, I would notice pretty quickly and could alert the bank.

If your loved one is adamant about having a credit card in their possession, an alternative you could use is a prepaid credit card or a travel money card that you can reload when needed.

Another option would be to set up a second bank checking account with a smaller balance and let your loved one use a debit card/credit card associated with that account. If a charge goes through you would be aware (if you set up alerts) and possibly catch a large transaction before it gets processed.

The Social Security Card

Do NOT have your loved one carry their Social Security card. My mom was not of the generation that knew her SS# like you and I do. Therefore I had to keep it with me so I could give it to her when needed.

You can find out more information about the SS card and Identity Theft here.

Medicare Card

Your loved one CAN carry their Medicare Card. It no longer uses the SS# as the identifier. You can find out more about the card here.

TIP – put a copy of your loved one’s Social Security card and their Medicare card in a safe place just in case they are lost and you need them for something. See this post for other important documents you might want to have close at hand.

Purse/Wallet, Credit Card & Dementia

In case you missed what those suggestions were –

My 13th suggestion is this – In your loved one’s purse or wallet, take out all non-essential things especially credit cards and checkbooks.

While you’re at it, you can take care of the 14th suggestion – replace the credit card(s) with a loadable money card or a prepaid credit card.