Many people find it a struggle to pay their bills – especially as they age.
So if you find yourself observing your parents or an elderly relative in need of a helping hand, here are a few of many issues to consider:
Look for signs your parent or elderly relative needs help.
They probably won’t tell you they need help; in fact, they may not even know they need help. It isn’t uncommon to lose track of the amounts they are spending, and paying bills on time, if at all. This is especially true if an individual has health issues that take a toll on cognitive abilities.
Set up automatic bill pay.
If your parent or relative is collecting Social Security, arranging so that bills are paid automatically when the money is deposited may be beneficial. There are also third-party bill paying services, as well as companies that specialize in paying bills for the elderly, but those can get expensive (sometimes $60 a month or higher).
Limit chances of trouble.
If you have power of attorney (legal authority to make financial decisions), consider having all of your parent(s) mail forwarded to your home. This could limit poor financial decisions for someone that is on a fixed income.
If you’re not in charge of the finances, but are at this stage in the game, you should discuss with your parent(s) the idea of seeing a lawyer to set up power of attorney. They may naturally resist the idea at first, but remind them that it doesn’t have to mean you make ALL financial decisions.
Your parents may be mentally sharp – but still need assistance.
Sometimes you have to help earlier than expected. For example, if you have a younger parent that is unemployed and semi-retired after a lifetime of working hard labor jobs. It isn’t uncommon for someone who has worked these types of jobs to have health problems that hinder them from going back to work in their trade. It’s easy for money to become mismanaged, and this also may be an appropriate time for you to step in and offer assistance.
Keep your parents involved in the budgeting for as long as possible.
Yes, it's likely faster if you handle everything on your own, but it spares your relative’s dignity if he or she still has a hand in making decisions (provided it promotes bonding time and doesn’t cause more stress). Keep them involved.