Helping Parents Manage Their Money

I was talking on the phone with my sister the other day when the conversation shifted to our Mom and her older sister both living longer than average lives. So long, in fact, that family had to help them receive the physical and emotional care they needed in their last years. What seemed to take an inordinate amount of time was handling their finances, which started me wondering. Was there a better way to help your aging and no longer as sharp parents handle their everyday living expenses and mounting medical costs?

Dealing with an aging parent can become another job. But, with some prior planning, we can do a lot to make the job of helping aging parents far less stressful. What can we do to be proactive?

One basic step to avoid being caught off guard is to talk with our aging parents about money and their future. Okay, no one likes to bring this up. But approximately 44 million Americans are caring for an older adult, most likely a parent. Managing money does not necessarily mean offering financial support; it may simply mean assisting with financial chores and decision making.

The basics are:

1. Start the money conversation
2. Request that parents prepare legal documents
3. Understand basic information
4. Reduce parental debt
5. Review insurance coverage
6. Hire assistance when needed

Here’s an article by Sharon A. Burns, Ph.D., executive director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, Upper Arlington, Ohio that outlines the basics.

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