Using Cash at an Assisted Living Facility


When my parents moved into their first assisted living facility, I was told that the Assisted Living Administrators kept “cash accounts” for their residents use.  Residents could not keep money secure in their rooms and instead were encouraged to leave money with the administration.

Then if they went on an outing or to an activity where they needed money, they could just request some money from their account. The difficult part about these accounts is that you can’t make a deposit by check.  They want only cash deposits.

I put money into mom and dad’s account and each month I received a statement of the amount in the account.  In the entire time they were there, they never took any money from their account.  After mom died I moved dad up north to live near me in another assisted living facility.

Dad’s current ALF has the same system for using a cash account, and I again deposited money for dad into that account.  For the first year dad was at his current ALF, he never touched his cash account.

Then last year dad started going out on lunch trips with the group on the ALF van.  Before they leave, the cashier gives each resident a certain amount of money to pay for their lunch.  So, this year dad started using up the money in his account, and I replenished it several times.  I added more cash before I left on vacation.

Now dad has his own system that he developed over many years.  Mom kept him on a strict allowance and he was given only $20 per month for spending money.  Mom was afraid he would just go to garage sales and buy more junk.

Dad learned over the years to hold onto cash when he got it.  If he had money left over after running to the store for mom, he would try to just pocket it and not return it to mom.  He also set aside his allowance money in a safe place.

Last week dad lost his wallet while at one of the activities. When his companion came, he told her he had lost his wallet and he was concerned because he had $20 in it.  (Now we know he is supposed to let the ALF hold onto all his cash as they don’t want the liability of having cash disappear from residents’ rooms.) The companion went with dad and they found his wallet with the money still in it.

Today the ALF called me as dad is going out to lunch with the group.  They gave him $30 from his account to pay for his lunch.  But now he had only $3 left.  I asked how I could send money since they don’t take checks.  She reiterated that they only want cash. I said I would have my son bring some cash next week when he visits.

In the meantime, I said, dad might still already have $20 in his wallet that was there when he lost it a few weeks ago.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have a bit more stashed somewhere.  But with his Alzheimer’s I don’t know if he would find it.

I don’t object to dad keeping a bit of cash in his wallet as I know it makes him feel more independent.  I hope he returns his change to the ALF after his lunch out today, but it really doesn’t matter.  I just doubt he will spend $30 on lunch since he is very aware of prices.  They never would have spent that much on a meal when mom was alive and I know dad has commented on prices when I took him out to eat.

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About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Assisted Living Facility, Caregiving, Dementia, Eldercare and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Using Cash at an Assisted Living Facility

  1. terry1954 says:

    I go through the exact same thing, cash only. With Al I have learned they don’t like him having even one dollar on him. So when he goes on an outing they snoop through his personal belongings searching for money. Now this I don’t like at all.

    • I agree, Terry. I would ask them to stop the prying and let you and Al take the loss risk if you are willing to do so. He has right to privacy and you should have a written list of his rights if you ask for it. That is too intrusive!

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