Older adults need help navigating the world, especially when it comes to money matters. Having been brought up in the polite and trusting culture of the 1940s and 1950s, elderly people are often overly reluctant to say “no, thanks” to salespeople and marketing schemes, according to the FBI. And this puts them at risk.
Here are the best ways to help an aging loved one navigate the tricky world of money management well into his/her golden years.
Build trust in other areas. Before even discussing finances, your senior friend or parent needs to know you have her best interest at heart in general. This means calling before a snow storm to be sure she has everything she needs, or visiting one day a month during autumn to rake leaves. It means listening when she tells you stories of long ago, even you already know the story by heart. It means knowing the name of her companion animal and her favorite kind of music. Don’t try to offer financial advice to an older friend until you are indeed truly friends.
Know your stuff. Read up on common pitfalls for elderly folks, and be ready to answer questions instead of just giving instructions. To self-educate, hit up some trustworthy sites like:
You should also know common administrative banking tasks like how to make a deposit and pay bills with an account holder’s preferred payment method.
Brace yourself for some surprises. Many seniors are not afraid to talk about their own death. It may prove the perfect time to bring up the importance of naming a beneficiary, so your loved one’s property doesn’t end up in government’s hands, or worse – in court. You might be surprised at the mention of her passing, though, so prepare yourself mentally for that possibility.
Give assistance, don’t take control. Offer to help manage your aging loved one’s finances, but only insomuch as will ease the burden. If you encounter any push-back, relax and put yourself in their shoes. Can you imagine a younger, less mature adult writing your checks for you or speaking with debtors on your behalf?
If your senior loved one becomes frustrated, remember: it’s likely not your fault. Losing your capacity to keep pace in a fast-moving world can be scary and even maddening. Don’t be hurt if she gets angry when you offer to help. You know your motives are loving, and in time, she’ll see that too.
Advocate and automate. Speak up for your elder if you see she’s being taken advantage of. Ask to be put on “do-not-call” lists, and unsubscribe from spam emails. If calls are coming in from collections agencies, get a professional advocate from CESI Solutions to do the decoding for you.
Then, put your loved one’s accounts on autopilot by enlisting bill pay services from her bank. When income arrives, have it allocated quickly and effortlessly with autopay, so whatever is leftover can go toward variable expenses.
Get smart on current scams. Con artists are always changing their tactics, and the fuzzy memories of many seniors make it easy for the bad guys to escape all too often.
An investment opportunity doesn’t need to be fraudulent to be a bad idea, though. Even “good deals” are bad for someone who’s strapped for cash.
When helping a senior loved one with money management, teamwork is the name of the game. Remember CESI Solutions is on your team, and can help answer any questions that may come up.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY