Sometimes changes in mental or health status can make it more difficult for seniors to manage their personal finances. A lot of seniors are able to handle their own finances, however others may find it challenging due to poor vision, shaky hands, memory loss and other physical and mental conditions.
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In an effort to cope with changes in their health status, many seniors may be reluctant to ask for help, especially when it comes to managing finances, because they feel that it is a sign of weakness. Seniors are very protective of their privacy, so they feel that seeking for assistance may put themselves at risk of losing their independence.
It may be difficult to convince seniors that they need help with managing finances. For most seniors, this is a very sensitive subject and it is important to understand and be sensitive towards them when discussing money matters. Usually, the best time to talk to seniors about assistance with managing finances would be before the need arises. It is better to discuss money matters while the senior is still healthy and active so you can come up with a plan on how you can provide assistance when the time comes.
Observe and watch for these warning signs that will tell you when a senior needs help managing finances to avoid any financial trouble.
1. Monitor Checkbooks and Bank Statements
Looking at a senior’s checkbook or bank account statements may offer some valuable information if you think the senior may need help in managing personal finances.
- Missing checks, unusually large check amounts, or multiple checks in a row to the same payee may be a sign that there are problems. Missing checks may be a sign of forgetfulness or that someone like a caregiver is taking a check or two that is going unnoticed.
- Checks with unusually large amounts may also be a sign that someone has scammed a senior.
- Multiple checks to the same payee in a month may mean that someone is taking advantage of a senior and might be charging the senior multiple times in a month for the same services.
- Make sure to check for the following as well:
- Checks bouncing due to insufficient funds
- Several overdraft fees
- Utilities being cut off for nonpayment
2. Check Credit Card Statements
Another place that you can look for signs of financial trouble is with credit card statements.
- If your loved one has always paid off the balance of the card, and is suddenly making only minimum payments, it could be a sign of mismanaged finances.
- Look for multiple purchases from the same source. This may be a sign that your loved one has unintentionally been subscribed or enrolled to something she or he does not really want.
- Check if there are multiple purchases on the same day, unusually large purchases of unlikely items, or charges from places you know your loved one doesn’t frequently go to. It may be a sign of fraud.
- Are there any unnecessary fees? Nowadays there are so many promotional programs with opt-in, free-trial offers. This is why a lot of people, especially seniors end up paying for membership, insurance and other credit card programs that are not really needed.
If you think that your senior love one needs help in managing personal finances, it is important that you talk to him or her as soon as possible. Bring up your concerns, suggestions and discuss possible consequences of mismanaged finances.
Be sure to involve your elderly loved one as much as possible in the decision-making. Instead of completely taking over the senior’s finances, it will be easier if you just offer assistance with certain tasks that they need help. For example, if your senior loved one is starting to show memory loss, you can offer to review their account statements with them once or twice a month.
Listening to what your senior loved one has to say is very important. Remember, conversations that involve finances can be very tough and emotional for seniors. Therefore, it is important for you to address the financing issues early while also understanding and being sensitive towards their feelings and need for independence.
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About the Author: Catharine D. Allado is a Senior Care Expert and the COO of SeniorCareHomes.com – A trusted and comprehensive online directory of Senior Care Homes such as Assisted Living, Nursing Homes and other types of Senior Housing in California, Florida, New York, Arizona and the rest of the United States. SeniorCareHomes.com also provides FREE Assisted Living options to help seniors and families find the best Senior Housing on the planet!
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