An entrepreneur from the south of England whose parents were both diagnosed with dementia is unveiling a new debit card for people living with the condition, supported by Alzheimer’s Society and Mastercard. Sibstar is the UK’s first debit card and app designed with the specific functionality to help people in the West Midlands to safely manage everyday spending.
Jayne Sibley, who’s behind the concept, knew she had to find a solution when her Mum started mis-managing her money as a result of her dementia. She said: “I first noticed a problem when Mum started spending more on groceries than I did, and I have a family of four.
“Mum was making countless cashpoint withdrawals, writing cheques to charities and taking out duplicate insurance policies on white goods. She was really vulnerable to online, over the phone and doorstep salespeople and then started giving away cash to homeless people.
“My mum is a kind-hearted, generous lady, but there was no way she could sustain that level of spending and giving.” Jayne’s mum, June, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018 and Jayne’s dad was diagnosed seven years earlier with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The Mastercard debit card is pre-loaded with funds, then how and where the money is spent can be managed through the Sibstar app, which is available on iPhone and Android. Each element of Sibstar’s functionality can be instantly switched on or off, delivering a flexible solution which can be scaled as the needs of individual customers change. The app’s money management controls include spend limits, ATM, online, phone switch on/off, instant freeze, auto top up, and real time notifications which can be changed instantly and remotely.
Jayne admits there have been lots of challenges while caring for her parents but the hardest thing has been trying to find a way of keeping her mum financially independent while financially secure.
“My parents worked really hard for their money and it was really stressful to see it being frittered away”, she said. “Not least of all, we would need this money to pay for high levels of care later on.
“Mum is a really sociable person and Alzheimer’s has not taken that away. It’s part of who she is and being able to go out to the shops, to the café or pay for a yoga class is her lifeline.”
In order for June to retain a level of independence, Jayne knew she had to find a solution. This week she has unveiled a new debit card, Sibstar, which she has designed specifically for people with dementia.
There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK, including 84,090 in the West Midlands. In addition to common symptoms like memory loss, difficulty concentrating, planning and organising, many people can lose their ability to deal with their daily finances - as confusion increases, so too does vulnerability to being scammed, losing cash or cards, giving money away inappropriately, or over-buying, and as a result, hard earned savings can disappear.
Over the last nine months, Sibstar has been piloted by 65 people in the UK who are living with dementia, and their families. Lynda from Solihull in the West Midlands has been supporting her 69-year-old cousin, Pauline, who is using the Sibstar card after being stung by scammers.
She said: “Pauline was becoming very confused about money matters and as a result was targeted by scammers.
“She lost a considerable amount of money by telephone and the scammers were able to manipulate her. She was diagnosed last May with Alzheimer’s following a period of becoming increasingly forgetful since the first Covid lockdown.
“Pauline had a career as a nurse but started to demonstrate the early stages of what many Alzheimer's patients develop, particularly her short-term memory. Things did not improve as time passed but got rather worse.
“At that point, we believed that she was in the throes of grief as her husband died during the pandemic from cancer.” Doing the grocery shopping, meals out, and buying clothes are really important to Pauline and Lynda believes using Sibstar has given her cousin freedom and independence without the risk of being scammed: “We all thought it was sensible to use something like Sibstar to make sure she could use her card without fear of being targeted and as far as we can tell, it has been working well.”
Research shows that nine in ten (89%) of people with dementia experience difficulties with managing their money day-to-day, and nearly half (45%) find money difficulties a major cause of stress and worry. Sibstar has been set up to combat this – as an innovative way for people with dementia to access and manage their day-to-day money and empower those living with dementia to live financially independently for longer in a safe, supported way.
The charity Alzheimer’s Society is partnering with Sibstar by investing in the company and working with the Sibstar team to continue to develop and promote their product.
Colin Capper, Associate Director of Evidence and Involvement at Alzheimer’s Society said: “Too many people living with dementia face barriers in using financial services, leaving them with a loss of independence and vulnerable to scams.
“Alzheimer’s Society is working to make the financial sector more dementia-friendly, as well as raise awareness of the challenges involved. We are delighted to have supported Sibstar through our Accelerator Programme, which funds innovations and inventions that we believe can change the lives of people affected by dementia."
There is a £4.99 set-up fee and £4.99 monthly subscription. 7.5% of net profit goes directly back to Alzheimer’s Society.