Amongst the most sensitive topics for the elderly is recognizing when it is time to accept some help with money matters. Personal finances are both exceedingly personal and a representation of autonomy, and adult children in particular are sometimes met with opposition when helping aging parents with finances.
Nevertheless, for many reasons, like the increasing frequency of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is vital that you’re sure the resources your loved ones have accrued through the years are safe and sound, and that bills are paid properly and on time. It is a concern that should be handled delicately and with diplomacy. Try these tips for a smooth transition to assisting a family member with finance management:
- The initial conversation. Approaching a senior loved one with regard to the need for help with personal finances can be challenging. Keeping respect for the older adult throughout the process is crucial, making it obvious that your intentions are not to “take over,” but to work with the older adult to come up with a plan for effectively managing finances.
- Organizing documents. Once you’ve set up a practical financial plan together with your loved one, pull together copies of all relevant documents into one easily-accessible place, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, wills, etc.
- Accessing accounts. Work with a reliable financial planner or elder law attorney to obtain access to your loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and carry out any other necessary transactions.
- Including other family members. Frequent meetings with other family who may have a vested involvement in the older adult's financial matters ensures everyone is well informed and on the same page, and can help alleviate problems and future conflict. Designate someone to take notes of any decisions made, and supply each family member with a copy.
- Planning for the future. As a senior loved one's health or cognitive ability change over time, it will likely be important to have an agenda set up for additional action which may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, as well as end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.
If helping aging parents with finances is met with resistance, it can sometimes help to bring in a reliable third party professional, such as a financial advisor – or even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help your parent be aware of the value of getting financial affairs in order now. You may even have to shelve the discussion for a little while and revisit the topic down the road.
Contact Amy’s Helping Hands, the Windsor-Essex home care specialists, for additional strategies to help ease challenging conversations with the seniors you love, and to learn more about our dependable in-home care solutions for older adults.