If you suspect that your parent has become more forgetful, has made some questionable financial decisions or unwise purchases, or seems overwhelmed by on-going daily tasks such paying the bills, it’s probably time to take a closer look.
Overdraft or shut-off notices. If you see overdue notices on the table or your parent complains of overdraft fees, that might mean they are having trouble keeping track of due dates.
Growing credits on recurring bills. On the flip side, if your parent is sending in multiple checks each month and building up a credit, that’s another sign they are having trouble keeping track of their finances.
An empty bank account at the beginning of the month. If the Social Security check is supposed to last all month and it’s gone in the first week, you know there’s a problem.
Stacks of unopened mail or items filed in unusual places.
Uncharacteristic purchases. If your normally prudent parent suddenly starts ordering regularly from the Home Shopping Network, it could be a sign of slipping financial management skills.
Increased gambling. Again, if your parent is suddenly losing significant amounts of money in in-person or online gambling, it could be a sign that he or she is no longer able to keep track of how much they have spent.
Strange mail and phone calls. LaPonsie quotes Nicholas Reister, an attorney with Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as saying that once a senior has started making poor financial choices, scammers can come out of the woodwork.
If you determine that your parent or aging relative needs help to preserve their assets and manage their money wisely, it’s time to step in, but you must do so carefully
Experts recommend first ruling out other medical issues, such as vision and hearing problems, before assuming your parent has dementia. Some conditions such as bladder infections can also cause symptoms that mimic dementia, so a complete physical is a good first step.
Then, Reister cautions adult children to tread lightly. Asking your parents if you can help them open the mail and balance the checkbook can be a respectful way to offer assistance.
"Kids should only take the most minimally intrusive steps needed," he said. "Protect them with dignity."
If you do suspect your parent is having trouble managing his or her finances, it might be a good time to check out our new e-book, “When Parents Age.” If your parent is having trouble making good financial decisions, it could be that he or she would benefit from assistance in other areas as well.
At Daystar Retirement Village, we know these can be difficult conversations to start, but “When Parents Age” might be just the resource you need.