It is common for adult children to step in and help an aging parent manage finances, as they get older. Depending on personalities, some elderly people have no problem asking for help while others are more hesitant either from embarrassment or pride.
Juggling living costs and increased medical expenses can become overwhelming and frustrating, especially when living on a fixed income. If your loved one has arthritis, is experiencing changes in vision or mental status, or if you have other concerns about their financial responsibilities, address the issue with a casual conversation.
As we get older, it is crucial that we accept the various transitions that occur during the later stages of life. Obviously, addressing topics like finances, power of attorney, long-term care and funeral preferences aren’t necessarily pleasant conversations, but everyone benefits from discussing the details before any cognitive decline or accident occurs. Being proactive in addressing your financial concerns with aging family members will help prevent the situation from escalating into a bigger problem.
Take It Slowly
Change is difficult for practically everyone and for most of us; finances are a very private matter. When you have the conversation, take it slowly and offer to help by out designating a time when you can sit down together to review the finances. If they are receptive to your offer, assist them by balancing the checkbook, writing checks, reviewing statements for accuracy, etc.
Help With Organization
Bills and unopened mail can quickly pile up. If this is what alerted you to the issue, propose helping to get paperwork and legal documents organized. Having the opportunity to review insurance policies, medical bills, and other details will help you gain insight into details and knowing where this sensitive information is stored will prove beneficial as well. This is an ideal opportunity to ask questions about bills or transactions too, so you can get a feel for how well they understand and remember the details.
Whether during your visits or when first starting to help manage the finances, look for signs that will clue you in on how dire the situation might be. For example, unpaid bills placed randomly throughout the house, unusual phone numbers on caller id could indicate calls from bill collectors, or a checkbook register that hasn’t been updated recently. Finding a way to help without being perceived as intrusive will enable your loved one to maintain a feeling of independence while giving you the ability to aid in the process.
Although everyone’s situation is somewhat unique, when you and your elder openly communicate about the details, and they are confident your goal is to relieve them of stress, it will be easier to develop a budget, protect them financially, and prepare for the future.