As seniors get older, managing their money gets harder. Technology changes, taxes become more complex and banking laws get updated, all while their health declines. Getting a little help with organizing finances and paying bills can make life a lot less stressful for the elderly. If your parents, relatives or older friends look like they may need assistance with their finances, here are a few suggestions:
Watch for Signs
Seniors probably won’t let on that they need help, so you should 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, like “Are you doing alright with money, Mom?” can also help, but make sure to be sensitive about it.
Set Up Automatic Bill Paying
Technology makes bill paying a snap for seniors. With their permission, you can 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 Just make sure you monitor any fund transfers to ensure they are being deposited or withdrawn correctly.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 any potential money problems before your loved ones run into them will save them, and you, a lot of stress. 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 prevent the loss of important documents and limit the potential for identity theft or fraud. If the health of your loved ones decline to the point where they are unable to manage their finances at all, you should consider discussing power of attorney with them, which allows you to make financial decisions on their behalf.
Keep Seniors Involved
Make sure to keep your loved one 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 him to ever feel useless. It’s important that he feel he still has some control of his finances even with your assistance. Keep a senior’s morale up by involving him in the decision-making process for as long as possible.