December 4, 2019 by
One of the hardest challenges for older adults is accepting the need for help with financial matters. Finances are both highly personal and a representation of our independence, and adult children in particular are often met with resistance when attempting to help aging parents with finances.
Yet for a variety of reasons, such as the increasing incidence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it’s important to ensure that the assets our loved ones have acquired over the years are protected, and that bills are paid correctly and on time. It’s an issue that needs to be handled delicately and with diplomacy. Try these strategies for a smooth transition to assisting your loved one with finance management:
- The initial conversation. Approaching your loved one about the need for assistance with finances can be daunting. Maintaining respect for the senior throughout the process is crucial, making it clear that your intentions are not to “take over,” but to work together with the senior to come up with a plan for effectively managing finances.
- Organize documents. Once you’ve established a workable financial plan with your loved one, gather together copies of all important documents into one easily-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
- Access accounts. Work with a trusted 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 conduct any other necessary transactions.
- Include other family members. Regular meetings with other family members who may have a vested interest in the senior’s financial matters ensures everyone is informed and on the same page, and can help prevent future conflict. Designate someone to take notes of any decisions made, and provide each family member with a copy.
- Plan for the future. As your loved one’s health or cognitive ability changes over time, it will be important to have a plan in place for additional action that may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, and for end-of-life decisions, such as asset distribution.
If the senior is resistant to your assistance with his or her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – or even the senior’s primary care physician – who can help your loved one understand the importance of getting financial affairs in order now. You may also need to shelve the conversation for a while and revisit the subject later.
Contact At Home Independent Living for additional tips for helping aging parents with finances, easing difficult conversations with the seniors you love, and to learn more about our trusted Syracuse elderly care providers and the communities we serve.