The country’s population is aging. You read about some facet of this in almost
every newspaper every day. The articles report on ways to find the best senior living facility or nursing home, how to find home health care, how to find someone to run errands or perform light housekeeping. They share the trials and tribulations of family members trying to assist their aging parents. They describe stories of Seniors who have been victims of fraud. They underscore the importance of having a will or trust and other important legal papers. But what always seems to be missing is a discussion of the very common, very real need for assistance with the day-to-day financial issues. I don’t mean financial assistance in the way of loans or the actual paying of bills. What I mean is someone who helps to make sure bills are correct, bills are paid on time, and fraudulent requests
There are many situations that might require someone to need assistance. They include recent death of a spouse (especially when the deceased was the person handling the day-to-day family finances), short or long-term illness (physical or mental), increasingly poor vision, or being unable to stay on top of things due to general fatigue. Most everyone reading this can probably think of someone – a family member, friend, or neighbor – who falls into one of these categories. But how many of you know someone who is receiving help with these activities?
The media doesn’t seem to have caught on to this growing problem yet. All of this really bothers me. It’s becoming a true passion of mine, to be sure. We need to take care of our elderly. We need to help with all facets of their lives. And the financial piece is vital!!!
So why is the financial piece so critical? Improperly managed daily finance can cost thousands in savings. Simple things like helping the Senior avoid late and non-sufficient funds fees – these can really add up! Helping to find cost savings opportunities (most Seniors are on fixed incomes and any savings are always greatly needed and appreciated). Reviewing bills to ensure they are proper and accurate – especially medical bills! Keeping track of donations to non-profit
agencies so the Senior isn’t giving more than they can afford. Detecting fraud before it occurs – Seniors, as we all know, are a favorite of identity thieves.
So, what can you do to help? First, sit down with your parent(s) and gently ask how well they feel they are taking care of their day-to-day financial responsibilities. Ask if there is anything you can help with. Ask if you can sort through their paperwork and mail. If they agree, be alert for late notices, lots of junk mail, questionable requests for money. If you detect any problems, you need to ask if they would like help with these duties. Unfortunately, many Seniors are too proud or too private to want the help, but you need to do what you can to start the conversation.
If they are willing to get assistance, first, decide whether you have the time and/or ability to help them on an ongoing basis. If you are not comfortable doing this, you should research local organizations who might be able to help (senior groups, tax assistance agencies, etc.). If you are interested in hiring someone to take on these duties, you can find a great amount of information from the American Association of Daily Money Managers at www.aadmm.com. You can search for DMMs (Daily Money Managers) by state or zip code. Most are willing to schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs, as well as share more about their background and abilities.
As always, I hope this information has helped and I welcome comments! Please contact me if you have further questions. Thank you!