Caregivers of older adults have numerous responsibilities, with financial management being one of the most important. It can be difficult to convince an elderly loved one that they need guidance, even when all the warning signs are there. To simplify the process and reduce the potential for defensiveness, we’ll offer a few tips on helping aging family members manage their finances.
Like other difficult conversations, finding the right place and time to discuss finances is important. If you’re in a crowd, celebrating the holidays, or in a hurry, you are much less likely to achieve success. Approach your senior loved one in a quiet, comfortable senior living setting when everyone is relaxed and in a positive mood.
Teamwork and Respect
If the older adults in your life can still manage their own finances, work with them and respect their decisions instead of taking control. With teamwork, they’ll be more receptive to your input and will also be more likely to accept help when things get unmanageable. Work with other relatives to keep everyone on the same page, and the entire process will be easier.
Find Crucial Documents
When helping an older adult manage their finances during an emergency, or when considering assisted living options, it’s important for family members to know where essential documents are, including:
- Insurance policies
- Brokerage and bank statements
- Car titles
- Pension documentation
- Social Security papers
When families have access to these documents, it’s much easier to manage a senior’s finances when they can no longer do so.
Gain Account Access
Getting into an older adult’s accounts will require planning and paperwork, as financial institutions have stringent rules on outsider access. To withdraw money or write checks from a senior’s accounts, you’ll need to become an authorized user. To access safe deposit boxes, the older adult can choose an agent or deputy. Before gaining access or signing documents, it’s best to consult a financial planner, fiduciary, and elder affairs attorney.
Maintain a Degree of Separation
No matter how simple it may seem, it’s not wise to mix your loved one’s finances with your own. Keep your funds and assets separate, as using your own money to help is a bit of a slippery slope. After all, you shouldn’t jeopardize your own retirement to help someone else, even if they’re living in an assisted living community.
Once you’ve learned about your senior relative’s finances, go over their savings and retirement income and consider making the switch to direct deposit. By doing this, you’ll ensure timely deposits even if they forget to go to the bank. If bill paying is too much of a stressor, think about setting up automatic payments.
Keep Family in the Loop
Older adults should, for as long as possible, have a say in their finances. That’s not always feasible, though, and in some cases, family members must step in and take responsibility. By sharing information with other relatives and keeping them in the loop, you’ll reduce the potential for conflict, accusations, and resentment.
Get Ready for What’s to Come
If the older adult in your life doesn’t have an estate plan or a will, now is a great time to gently encourage them to get started. These vital documents will determine how your senior relative’s assets are handled in the event of their passing. Other documents, like living wills and powers of attorney, will also allow families to act quickly when the unexpected happens.
Seek Professional Help
If your family is like many others, the senior may not be willing to discuss their finances. When these discussions fail, consider asking them to meet with a senior care expert, a financial advisor, and an attorney. Most of these professionals will encourage seniors to share financial information with family members.
What Families Should Know
Discussing your loved one’s finances isn’t an effort to find out what they have or how much you’ll inherit. Rather, the goal is to ensure they have enough money to meet their current and future needs, the insurance to cover their medical care, and someone to make decisions for them when they can no longer do so.
When a senior can’t manage their own finances, it’s challenging for them and their family members. By following the tips in this guide and working with the care team at Arbor Palms of Anaheim, you’ll find it easier to care for your elderly loved one’s spiritual, physical, and financial well-being. Visit us online for more information or call us today to schedule a tour of our senior living community.