One of the major credit card companies has suggested that we should “never leave home without” their card. When we’re talking about someone with dementia leaving home with credit cards, purses, wallets, or other critical information, the best advice is to never leave home with it. At least, not with all of the same content that normally goes with us.
As with everything else that one does differently with Alzheimer’s, items that one can safely carry will vary with each person, and will change as the disease progresses. Be mindful that people with this disease are perfect targets for identity theft. Credit cards and cash can be easily stolen or mishandled. Other items that the person is certain they left home with may just “disappear” when in fact, it was missing long before they left the house.
Some people will never leave home–or any where– without their purse or wallet. It can be a symbol of one’s independence or provide a sense of security. Out of respect for them we need to allow this, but only with some modification of the contents.
Suggestions for safeguarding personal valuables include:
- Make copies of every important card including credit cards, health insurance, medicare, etc.
- Social Security cards should be kept in a safe place, NEVER carried on your person
- Inside each purse, wallet, pocket book, glasses case, include name, address & phone
- Limit the amount of cash-$20 all in one dollar bills can seem like a lot, but will minimize loss
- If it seems appropriate, allow a credit card with a low limit but never allow a debit card
- As the disease progresses, consider having purses or wallets void of any valuable items. Perhaps, exchange real money for “play” money or use the paper credit cards often received in the mail with applications.
- Be sure they have an “In Case of Emergency” card with the caregiver’s name and full contact information