As technology changes, taxes become more complex, and banking laws get updated, managing money can get harder for older people, who are also busy keeping a watchful eye on their health. Helping seniors pay bills can make life a lot less stressful for everyone. If you’re curious whether your parents, relatives or older friends may need assistance with organizing their finances, here are a few suggestions:
Watch for Signs
Seniors probably won’t let on that they need help, so check in from time to time to make sure their bills are being paid. Be on the lookout for any serious health issues, like dementia. If your loved one must stay in the hospital, starts feeling under the weather more frequently or begins forgetting things, money management may be neglected. Asking straightforward questions about their finances can also help, but make sure to be sensitive about it. (If your loved one needs long-term care, read “6 Ways to Be a Successful Caregiver” to find out more about budgeting, reserve funds and estate planning.)
Set Up Automatic Bill Paying
Technology makes bill paying a snap for seniors. With their permission, help them set up automatic bill payments bills directly from their bank account or credit card. You can also help them arrange for direct deposit of Social Security, pension or investment checks. Some seniors may be wary of technology if they don’t understand it, but with your help they will be more amenable to automatic options. Just make sure you monitor any fund transfers to ensure they are being deposited or withdrawn correctly.
Limit the Potential for Money Trouble
Heading off possible money problems before your loved one runs into them will save both of you a lot of stress. When helping seniors pay bills, be proactive. If you notice they are struggling to manage money, work out a plan with them to make sure bills are being received and paid. You can direct their mail to your house so you can review any bills or bank statements. Taking over receivership will help prevent the loss of important documents and limit the opportunity for identity theft or fraud. If the health of your loved ones declines to the point where they are unable to manage their finances at all, consider discussing power of attorney with them, which allows you to make financial decisions on their behalf.
Keep Them Involved While Helping Seniors Pay Bills
Make sure to keep your loved ones in the loop when it comes to money and budgeting. At some point, you may have to handle all the finances, but you don’t want them to ever feel powerless. It’s important they feel that they still have some control of their finances, even with your assistance. Involve them in the decision-making process for as long as possible.
Helping senior pay bills and keep their finances in check may seem like a daunting task, but there are ways to help. With some of these tips, set in place a plan and stick to it. It may be easier than you think.