How to Help Your Elderly Parents Cope with Financial InsecurityBill Simplicity
As parents age, adult children are often concerned about the state of their parent’s finances. Do they have enough to live comfortably? Are their investments safe? How are they handling their daily finances? All of these are valid concerns and are worth considering. However, there are ways that you can help your elderly parents cope with financial insecurity if they seem to be struggling.
Learn all you can about your parent’s current financial situation
Parents often hesitate to share their financial picture with their adult children. The reasons for the hesitancy are many, including wanting to keep a sense of privacy, concern over inconveniencing their adult children with their burdens, or embarrassment if they know their finances are not being managed as they should be. It is important to sit down and have an honest, open conversation with your parents about their current financial state. If they have one, get their financial advisor and CPA involved in the conversation as well. Anyone that has a stake, personally or professionally, in your parent’s finances needs to understand the whole picture so that you can best determine how to protect their assets as they age.
Discuss money management and budgeting
Oftentimes, the biggest risk to aging adults’ finances is the unmonitored everyday expenses. Talk to your parents about their finances, and ask for (or help your parents create) a budget of monthly expenses, from utilities to groceries to medical expenses. It is an ideal way to get a snapshot of ongoing expenditures and find opportunities to save money or put that money to better use. It is also a good opportunity to see how they are handling their monthly bill paying activities: are they paying bills on time? Missing payments? Double paying on accounts? As people age, such routine activities can become more challenging. You may find that now is a good time to set your parents up with a professional bill management service to secure that portion of their finances. It is also a good opportunity to see if there are any accounts that can be consolidated or eliminated altogether.
Review sources of income
Aging adults can miss opportunities for income that are due to them. Make sure your parents are taking advantage of any government income opportunities they can, including:
- Supplemental Security Income
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Veteran’s Benefits
It is also a good time to make sure that these payments are safely sent to your parents, whether through a direct deposit or a secure mail option versus checks sitting in a publicly accessible mailbox. Unfortunately, these paper checks are frequently a source of senior fraud.
Discuss opportunities to save money
Sometimes aging adults struggle with finances as they get older because they refuse to let go of the lifestyle they have enjoyed for so many years. Is it still realistic for aging parents to stay in the home they have? Household expenses can take a substantial chunk out of monthly finances, and if your parents have financial insecurity, moving to more affordable housing might be an option. This discussion might also extend to other opportunities for savings, such as an automobile that is no longer being used. Is it time to sell that car and get rid of all the related expenses, such as insurance? Finding ways to help them save money can ease financial insecurity and still allow them to live comfortably.
Know the signs that parents need more direct help with finances
Having a conversation about finances early with your parents is a good idea, especially if you see they are struggling with insecurity. However, many adult children are hesitant as they feel their parents can still handle their finances. Not sure if that is the case? Here are signs that it’s time to get more involved:
- Piles of unopened mail
- Always complaining about money
- Physical setbacks
- Memory problems
If any of these situations exist, it is time to get more involved in your parent’s finances, even if they appear to be secure.
Helping your parents cope with financial insecurity is inevitable for many adult children. Understanding how to start the conversation, ways to assist with helping the situation, and knowing when to step in can help make the process easier.