Amongst the hardest challenges for adult children is knowing how to help elderly parents with finances. Finances are both extremely personal and a representation of our autonomy, and adult children specifically are often met with reluctance when stepping into the financial arena with their senior parents.
Nonetheless, for a variety of reasons, including the ever-increasing incidence of senior scams and cognitive decline, it is important to make certain the financial assets our loved ones have accrued throughout the years are safeguarded, and that expenses are paid properly and on time. It’s a challenge that needs to be taken care of delicately and with diplomacy. Consider these tips for an easy transition to assisting a family member with financial matters:
- The introductory conversation. Approaching the senior concerning the need for assistance with personal finances can be challenging. Keeping respect for the senior through the process is extremely important, making it apparent that your motives are not to “take over,” but to work with the older adult to come up with a strategy for effectively managing finances.
- Organizing documents. As soon as you’ve set up a practical financial plan along with your loved one, round up copies of every important document into one easily-accessible location, including bank/brokerage statements, insurance policies, mortgage/reverse mortgage paperwork, Social Security payments, wills, etc.
- Accessing accounts. Work with a dependable financial planner or elder law attorney to obtain access to a senior loved one’s financial accounts to enable you to write checks on his/her behalf and carry out 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 makes sure everyone is up to date and on the same page, and can help prevent future conflict. Identify someone to take notes of any decisions made, and supply each member of the family with a copy.
- Planning for the future. As a senior loved one’s health or cognitive ability change over time, it’s going to be important to have a strategy set up for additional action which may be needed, such as becoming Power of Attorney for the senior, and for end-of-life decisions, including asset distribution.
If the senior loved one is resistant to your help with his/her finances, it can sometimes help to bring in a trusted third party professional, such as a financial advisor – and on occasion even the older adult’s primary care physician –to help a senior loved one be aware of the importance of getting financial affairs in order now. You might also need to shelve the conversation for a little while and revisit the subject later.
Connect with Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, the Saint Joseph home care leader, for additional ideas to help ease challenging conversations with the older adults you love, and to find out more about our trusted in-home care solutions for seniors. To learn more about the other areas we serve in southwest Michigan, please visit our Service Area page or call (269) 763-5350 in Paw Paw, (269) 849-9252 in St. Joseph, (269) 373-5444 in Kalamazoo or (269) 963-9888 in Battle Creek.