Creating a way to help a person with dementia be financially independent and secure

Jayne Sibley in Southampton tells us how her parents’ dementia inspired a new debit card and phone app to help people safely manage their everyday spending.

My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia in 2011, and seven years later my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

There have been lots of challenges, but by far the hardest has been keeping my parents’ day-to-day spending under control and secure. 

To help solve this, with support from Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve launched Sibstar – a debit card and app that other people affected by dementia and facing the same challenge as us can soon benefit from as well.

Jayne Sibley and her mum

Jayne and her mum.

Unsustainable spending 

As Mum’s condition progressed, she started spending more on groceries than I did, and I’ve got a family of four!

She made countless cashpoint withdrawals, writing cheques to charities and taking out duplicate insurance policies on the washing machine. She was really vulnerable to phone and doorstep salespeople. 

And then she started giving away cash to homeless people. My mum is a kind-hearted, generous lady, but there was no way she could sustain this level of spending and giving.

We tried everything to protect Mum’s everyday spending while keeping her independence. We asked the bank to set withdrawal and spend limits on her card.

We scratched out the code on the back of her card, but she’d lose it and the bank would send her a new one. Taking away her cheque book and going cash only was a complete disaster. 

This all resulted in us having to take away her access to her own money, which immediately led to a decline in her condition.

We needed a way to keep Mum financially independent but financially secure as well, and that’s where the idea for Sibstar came from.

Secure card 

Sibstar is a highly secure debit card and app for people with dementia and their families.

The person with dementia has the Sibstar card, which acts like any other debit card. The person supporting them has the Sibstar app on their phone, and together they decide how and where the card can be used. 

You can set daily spending limits, switch cashpoint or online payments on or off, and freeze and unfreeze the card. You can also receive spend notifications.

This can all be changed at any time, so you can adapt how you use Sibstar as the person’s dementia changes.

We aim to provide people who have dementia with a way to remain financially independent whilst keeping their money safe and secure. 

Alzheimer’s Society’s investment in Sibstar, through its Accelerator Programme, has been invaluable. It’s enabling us to get it to market more quickly. 

The card has a monthly subscription fee of £4.99, and people can register now to be one of the first to try it out.

Try out Sibstar

Register your interest now to get access to Sibstar when it launches in September 2021

Register now

Dementia together magazine: June/July 21

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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7 comments

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Will Sibstar be available in the states?

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Hi Sharon,

Thanks for your interest!

Sibstar will only be available in the UK for now.

Best wishes,

Alzheimer's Society content team

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This sounds like such a sensible idea. It is too late for our parents but I'm sure it will be so useful in the future. Well done and good luck.

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Congratulations! Sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, In South Africa where I live there is no ENDURING power of attorney. Power of attorney falls away if someone has dementia.. A cautionary note though. Fraud by other family members is a risk for elderly people whether they have dementia or not - at least from USA stats I have seen.

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This sounds like a brilliant idea and one that my mum could use, I am a bit unsure about a 'cap' of spending, as I know mum would be stressed out further if she went to purchase something and found she was over her 'limit'..How doe's this work when you set a limit without confusing a dementia sufferer more and avoid them getting more stressed and anxious?..

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Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your comment, and pleased to hear you like the idea!

Sibstar has an optional auto top-up function. So if you feel your Mum might get anxious if her card was declined at the check-out, all you need to do is set that up so when the balance on the card drops below a certain limit it will automatically be 'topped up'. Alternatively, you could choose to switch off the daily spend limit.

With these settings your Mum should never be in a position where her card is declined and don't forget you'll always receive notifications of how she's using her card so you can step in and help out, and change things at any time.

Hope this helps, Sarah.

Alzheimer's Society digital team

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Thank you for your reply..That has cleared my question up and put my mind at rest, I will be talking to my siblings about this great idea and decide which one of us takes the control..Thank you again for creating a great solution for the sufferer while still giving them the independence they crave with this vital adaption which keeps them in control.

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