Finances can be a tricky subject with lots of variables that may be hard to discuss. But as your parents get older, you might have to consider your role in helping manage their finances. As people continue to live longer, their need for care has also increased. In 2020, AARP estimated 41.8 million American adults are caregivers for someone 50 or older. But caretaking isn’t just about physical needs, it’s about financial needs too!
Generational perceptions that money is a taboo subject could make approaching the topic even harder. Your parents may have convictions that “You don’t talk about money.” But, if you have concerns about their ability to care for themselves in old age, it’s worth starting the conversation. Offer your assistance in as helpful and kind of way as possible.
Here are some tips to help you help them.
First, the way you start the conversation matters. Keep in mind:
- Approach the topic early, before your parents can no longer handle their finances. See below for signs of when it may be time to step in.
- Keep an open mind. Your parents’ independence is something they may have difficulty losing. Your role may be small at first.
- Don’t try to impose yourself against their will. Be respectful of your parents’ wishes. Remember that their money is still their money.
- Make suggestions rather than commands. For example, instead of telling them that they will need to start transitioning their financial responsibility to you, ask them to show you how they typically handle their finances each month. Then, slowly steer the conversation toward how you could lighten their load in the coming years.
Begin conversations early to prepare for five or 10 years down the road. This could save you from entering “panic mode” when your parents start struggling mentally or physically.
Signs to step in
Of course, if the time for acting early has already passed, be aware of the following warning signs that they may need help. These warning signs include:
- Unusual or more frequent purchases
- Entering multiple sweepstakes or contests
- Complaining or worrying about money troubles
- Physical or mental strains, like arthritis, dementia, or vision problems, that could make it difficult for them to carry out basic financial tasks
- Other memory problems that could hinder them from managing their money effectively
Okay, so let’s say you’ve eased your parents into the idea, and they’ve agreed to let you help. Now what?
To protect yourself and your parents, you’ll want to get some things in writing. Because of privacy laws, your parents may need to give you legal credentials to access accounts and complete transactions. Discuss appropriate boundaries with your parents. Come to an agreement on what information you will have access to and what actions you will perform on their behalf.
Accomplish this as soon as possible to make things easier. Create a list of their contacts and accounts, with account numbers and any other pertinent details. Locate where they keep important legal documents like birth certificates, social security cards, deeds, and wills. Organize their assets so you know where everything is when you need it.
Play defense against scams
Scammers are notorious for targeting seniors. Clicking suspicious links or engaging with a scammer on the phone can put your parents at risk for theft. Get ahead of this issue by talking to your parents about how to protect their identity and bank accounts. Help them learn how to:
- Identify phishing emails from unknown senders
- Recognize offers that seem too good to be true
- Tell the difference between content on a website and third-party ads
- Screen unprompted calls claiming to need information or payment
Keep it simple
It’s a good idea to simplify the financial tasks you and your parents will have to maintain. For example, if your parents have any income, make sure their payment comes in the form of direct deposit. This way they don’t have to make a deposit when their paycheck comes in, or risk forgetting to do so. It’s all about making their finances run as smoothly and independently as possible.
Additionally, help your parents navigate new technologies that can simplify their life. At TFNB, you can now deposit checks through our banking app, eliminating the need to drive to the bank or send payments in the mail. Help your parents learn how to use these features, or offer to take care of these things for them.
Communicate as a family
Finally, always remember to keep the rest of your family members in the loop. If you have siblings, be open and honest with them about what you are doing to help your parents.
Trust TFNB Your Bank for Life for every stage of life
Ultimately, you know your parents best. Work with them to make the most of their later years. If you are looking for a bank in Central Texas you can trust, turn to TFNB Your Bank for Life. We offer unique benefits for seniors that can help both you and your family feel confident their money is being managed effectively.
Learn more by stopping by or giving us a call at one of our four Waco area locations.