Starting at the age 60, studies have shown people may begin experiencing a decrease in their financial literacy score by one point per year. From cognitive impairment to medication problems, it doesn’t take much for everyday expenses and unpaid bills to cause financial trouble. Whether your aging parents are displaying signs of impairment or you’re just worried they can’t keep up with their finances, here are a few signs that might signal your loved ones are struggling.
Forgetting to Open Mail
Taking a look around your parents’ home is a good place to start. Do you notice stacks of unopened or unsorted mail? Do those piles include unpaid utility bills, bank statements or other crucial correspondence? If you know your parents aren’t paying their bills online and are typically on top of their finances, this is an indication that something is not right.
Changing Their Normal Behavior
Look for changes in your parents’ behavior. If your aging parent is suddenly making outlandish purchases or spending a lot of money on things they wouldn’t typically have bought in the past, it may be time to investigate. Big splurges on things that don’t fit into their lifestyle can be red flags for financial instability.
Forgetfulness is another indication that something is amiss. Do you see undeposited checks or unopened mail from insurance companies, pension funds or Social Security? This could be a signal they’re no longer able to go to the bank and make deposits.
Borrowing Money or Declining Activities
When formerly financially self-sufficient parents ask you for a loan, it may be time to ask where their money is going. Being stressed or worried about money isn’t unusual, but if your previously financially sound parents begin mentioning money problems, you may want to listen closely.
It’s also important to monitor their activities. If they’re changing habits such as declining invitations to go out with family or friends, this could be yet another example that their expenses are too much to handle on their own.
Receiving Calls From Creditors
When visiting your parents home, pay attention to new or unrecognized phone numbers calling the house often. Try listening to the answering machine when you can. Checking the caller ID logs is one way of tracking calls to see if creditors are contacting your elderly parents.
If you have access to view their credit score, check it regularly for sudden drops. A sharp decline could be a sign that they’re not keeping up with their bills.
In every situation, it’s important to observe your parents’ behavior over time and assess what might be the cause. If you’re unsure, it might be time to sit down with them and have a conversation about their money management. Remember, you’re not alone in this; there are a number of professional services available to help you and your parents navigate this process. From organizing and reviewing their finances to managing day-to-day income and expenses, a professional fiduciary can help your aging loved ones get back on track.
Do you have more questions about helping your senior parents manage their finances while still maintaining their independence?
At Marcia L. Campbell, CPA we act as trusted professional fiduciaries for many of our clients. As licensed professionals, we understand the importance of knowing that your trust, estate, or conservatorship is being managed legally, ethically, and accurately. We act as caring and objective fiduciaries and client advocates.
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