Caregivers Handling Money

Having a caregiver who can run to the store to shop for your loved one is part of the caregivers responsibilities and can be a tremendous help.  But it can lead to serious misunderstandings or worse, accusations of dishonesty.  While you may love and trust a caregiver completely, always remember that they are not members of your family.  They are human beings who can make mistakes.

Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to caregivers handling money there are several common mistakes:

  1. The biggest mistake you can make is to give a caregiver a credit card.  There is never a need to give a caregiver a credit card.
  2. The second biggest mistake is asking or allowing the caregiver to assist the customer in writing checks and paying bills.  Seniors often have a heightened sense of paranoia and may have a difficult time trusting even their own children with handling their money so you should not place the caregiver in such a position.  There are plenty of services that will assist with bill paying for free or for a nominal fee.
  3. Third, asking the caregiver to cash a check for you or your loved one sets up a paper trail that can lead to very serious misunderstandings.  Check cashing is as problematic as the fourth mistake… handling cash.
  4. Forth, handling cash can lead to misunderstandings very quickly. For example,  the customer gives the caregiver a $10 bill.  The caregiver dutifully goes to the store, buys groceries, gets a receipt and brings them back along with the change.  The customer then swears they gave them a $20 bill.  What do you do?  From then on, no matter how honest the transaction was trust is diminished.  Ideally, a signed receipt would accompany every step of the transaction but realistically, this does not happen.  The only thing you can do is make sure that everyone agrees on the denomination(s) and amount of money exchanged up front.  But dementia patients in particular cannot be relied upon with this procedure so you are taking your chances that everything will be alright.

How To Have Caregivers Handle Money

The best method for a situation where a caregiver needs to handle money is to provide the caregiver with a dedicated debit card.

When using a debit cared keep the following rules in mind:

  1. The card should be dedicated and not used for any other purpose so that it is easy to account for all of the spending on the card.
  2. The card should have a limited transaction value
  3. A strict procedure for accounting for receipts and reconciling transactions should be in place and understood by everyone involved.
  4. Accounting for the card should be done regularly using a strict procedure.  If everyone knows the process then there is far less likelihood of there being a misunderstanding.

Caregivers are there to help in many ways and transactions requiring money may be necessary.  But anytime money is involved it’s best to control things as tightly as possible to mimimize misunderstandings.

About Kelly Ellis