Adult Children Often Manage Their Parents’ Money

Growing old is a gift not afforded to everyone. Yet, it is fair to say that aging comes with challenges. Adult children of senior parents may find themselves helping their loved ones navigate these challenges, some of which may concern money.
Perhaps you are in this situation. If so, you may be asking yourself should I manage my parents’ finances when they move to assisted living? Morgan Lane Assisted Living Community of Tea, SD, is here to offer adult children of seniors with advice in the area of money management.

Problem Areas for Seniors When it Comes to Finances

  • Scams: Scam artists dupe unsuspecting people out of their money. Because they are typically generous and trusting, senior citizens are frequently the targets of these schemes. It’s not unheard of for an older adult to lose tens of thousands of dollars, or more, to a financial predator.
  • Limited Funds: Additionally, many seniors are afraid that their investments or savings will not see them through. A large percentage of the aged population live on a fixed income, and may worry that will not be able to cover monthly bills, including food, rent, doctor visits, medications and more. This stress doesn’t make getting older any easier!
  • Assisted Living Costs Are Predictable: If your loved one is fretting over the costs associated with an assisted living community, they will feel better knowing that all of their basic needs and agreed-upon services are included in their monthly payment. There will be no surprises when it comes to rent, heat, food, help with household tasks and hygiene, laundry services and more. Bes of all, a single payment will cover all of these things!

    Begin by Talking About It

    If you’re unsure if or when you should begin managing a parent’s finances, you’re not alone. There are some things to look for, however, such as memory deterioration, vision loss or physical impairments which make it extremely difficult for older people to pay their bills. So, how should you broach the subject with you loved one? Sometimes, the direct approach best. Simply ask if he/she would like a little help managing their money.
    Offer to sit down with them periodically to write out checks, address envelopes, balance bank accounts, etc. You may have to offer more than once, keeping in mind that it helps to sound enthused. You might be surprised to discover that your senior parent quickly welcomes your assistance when they are not burdening you.

    What if Your Parent Refuses Help?

    Of course, your parent may reject help with the bills. Then what? Simply offer to be a second set of eyes. Your mother or father may still be able to handle certain aspects of their finances, and should be encouraged to do so for as long as possible. A “double check” that everything has been paid and that accounts are balanced will bring peace of mind to both of you.

    Signs to Look For

    If your loved one is clearly incapable of handling money effectively, it may be necessary to seek legal help to become an authorized manager or joint holder on accounts. In extreme cases, you may have to obtain legal power of attorney in order to manage your loved one’s finances. We suggest a making thorough assessment of the situation first, beginning with the following questions:

    • Have you spoken with your senior and warned them not to give out any of their personal information over the phone or internet? Some scammers even pose as charities or ask for donations through cash, gift cards or money wires. Encourage your parent to contact you before they authorize any payments that are out of the ordinary.
    • Does your mother or father take care of bills as they arrive, or are envelopes left unopened and/or lying around the room?
    • Has your parent been harassed over the phone by collection agencies?
    • Ask to look over bills and keep an eye out for excessive balances, late fees or penalties.
    • Have there been large withdrawals from their checking account or checks written to unfamiliar people?
    • Does your loved one become agitated when discussing money?

    Be Gentle and Encouraging

    If you have determined your parent could use some help managing their finances while in assisted living, make a plan to help. It’s easiest to simply take the checkbook, collect the bills and take over running the show, but that’s probably not the best approach. Instead, simply guide and confirm for as long as is prudent, while your parent does the work. Consider setting up automatic payment for recurring bills.
    Over time, your parent may hand the bulk of these tasks over to you, or you may gradually insert yourself as the situation changes. Your goal should be, in the gentlest way, to promote your aged loved one’s independence while protecting their finances and good name.

    Doing What’s Right Isn’t Always Easy

    At Morgan Lane Assisted Living Community, we understand that discussions about money aren’t always easy or fun, but they are important. Knowing the current abilities of your parent will help you identify changes as they occur. Now is a good time to make a plan for how and when to provide more financial control. If you have questions about helping your senior manage finances in assisted living, we’d be happy to speak with you about it. Please call our office to arrange a time.