Having healthy talks about money with aging parents
Financial wellness is a lifelong effort, often with some of the hardest challenges coming later in life. Facing Alzheimer’s disease, or any degenerative condition, can be emotionally wrenching for all concerned. Advance health care and financial planning can help people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their families confront tough questions about future treatment, caregiving and legal arrangements.
A decline in the ability to handle financial matters is one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s. Seniors with mild symptoms – forgetting to pay bills or struggling to balance a checkbook or calculate change – are easy prey for fraudsters.
Here are six healthy ways to help parents who might need extra assistance with their financial matters:
- Maintain an open dialogue. It is important that you maintain open communication with your family members.
- Talk about your own situation, rather than your parents. Let them know what you have been doing, such as establishing or updating your will and power of attorney, and why. What was it that precipitated you doing that? Or, you can mention an article you’ve recently read, or a show you’ve recently watched. Then ask your parents what protections they have in place.
- Use a story. Tell your parents that you’ve heard about scams targeting seniors, and ask what they are doing to protect themselves. Help them get copies of their credit reports at Annualcreditreport.com, and review them together to make sure they aren’t victims of identity theft. Also, help your parents get on do-not-call lists. You can register home and cell phone numbers free at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 888-382-1222.
- Enlist the help of a third party. Your parents may be more willing to discuss their finances with you – and let you help them – if a third party suggests that they do. Your parents might be more receptive if the advice comes from a professional they know and trust, such as their doctor, attorney, accountant or financial advisor.
- Offer to help lighten their load. Offer to take over one of their financial responsibilities, such as preparing their taxes, or paying bills, so they have more time to do what they enjoy. Often, one spouse handles the bulk of the financial responsibilities, and when it is that spouse who is suffering or passes away, the surviving spouse does not know where to begin but doesn’t want or know how to ask for help.
- Take their concerns seriously. Take any concerns from your family members seriously and try to get as much information as possible.
Darren Schuldheiss is president of KeyBank’s Idaho market.