Seniors encounter various problems with their finances. It’s not always immediately obvious to friends and other family members if they don’t go over to see them. But when they visit them, the indicators are there if you look for them.
Here are 5 indicators of financial problems that can happen to seniors and what to do to give them their peace of mind back.
1. Almost Empty Cupboards
When you get into their kitchen and the cupboards are mostly bare of food, then it comes as a surprise. Perhaps you opened a few cabinets looking for some canned fruit or something else to offer as an easy snack only to discover that they were out of almost everything. If you know that previously they were diligent about stocking up, then it may suggest something untoward.
If their refrigerator is filled with moldy food, milk that’s long since gone off, and other tell-tale signs that there’s little fresh food, that’s even more worrisome.
While older people commonly aren’t as active and don’t eat as much as they once did, that doesn’t mean they don’t require good nutrition. While they may just have gotten to a stage where they cannot cope, the limited food options may also suggest financial problems.
2. Creditors Are Phoning In
If they’ve become difficult to reach on the phone, maybe they’re keeping the phone unplugged to avoid incessant calls from bill/debt collectors. They may try to cover it up by commenting that the phone is “playing up,” but likely it’s something more serious.
When you plug the phone back in, if the calls start to flood in and they’re getting frustrated about them, ask who is calling. Being hounded with phone calls is not normal, so they probably have bills that have gone unpaid. If they’re not as clear-minded or are becoming forgetful, they may believe that they’ve paid a certain bill and filed the statement away. Then they’re confused about the calls and cannot sort out what has happened.
Use Caller ID to verify who is calling. Some calls might be from scammers or other nuisance callers, but others could be legitimate. Dig deeper to follow up. Also, answer the phone to see who it is when they’re out of the room. If they make a fuss about it, what are they hiding?
3. Mail is Sitting Unopened
It’s normal to open your mail once it has arrived. Even if it’s just a junk mailer, these can be scanned and discarded quickly. So, not having enough time to process your mail is just a weak excuse.
When your family member has piles of mail sitting near the door or elsewhere that has clearly not been opened, that’s a growing issue.
If they’ve gotten to a place of fear where they know they cannot keep up with paying their bills, they could have buried their head in the sand. This is when mail gets ignored. Otherwise, they may just be murky on the details and are practicing avoidance. Either way, encourage them to open their mail and process it together.
Pay special attention to letters marked from the IRS and other organizations. It’s important to know what’s going on and how bad the situation really is.
4. Utilities Have Been Cut Off (and Reconnected)
Following on from the previous point, when they’re getting confused about what bills have been paid or they’re not opening their mail, utility bills don’t get paid. If they’re not an internet user, then they won’t be able to look up the latest bill online and pay it using internet banking either.
You may not be aware of this until you visit and find there are no lights or power. If the electric, gas, or another utility isn’t on, discover for how long that has been the case. See if anyone else in the street has the same issue, or if the loved one is covering up money issues.
Find the utility bill to see what needs to be paid. If you can, set up online access to their utility provider to look up their bills and verify that the balances due are being cleared on time. This can avoid a future disconnection.
5. Insufficient Funds
While it’s possible to miscalculate the remaining balance with a checking account or not be clear about the status of a credit card, there shouldn’t be repeated instances of insufficient funds.
When they offer to pay at a restaurant or in a store to buy something for their grandkids, and they are unable to cover it, it should suggest some financial mismanagement might be happening. They could be losing money from their account without knowing it. Maybe their card has been stolen but they just ordered a new one and neglected to cancel the old one or notify the bank.
If they’ve lost control of their finances, seeing that they don’t know their checking account or credit card balances is an early indicator of it.
When is the Right Time to Step in?
At the stage when your family member has lost (or is rapidly losing) control of their finances, it’s suggestive of other age-related issues. It’s quite likely that they’re having the quality-of-life difficulties because they’re struggling in many areas, not just with money management. The money is more of a symptom of larger problems that are growing in severity with each passing year.
You may wish to consider assisted living Aliso Viejo based as one possible solution. If they move to an assisted living facility, they can still maintain a reasonable amount of independence while not needing to worry about financial matters. Meals are cooked for them, so mealtimes that cause strife no longer have to. Also, there are plenty of activities to keep them engaged, active, and amongst new friends. It’s worth considering, at least.
Are There Other Options?
Certainly, you can visit more frequently to assist them. However, if you don’t live nearby or your free time is limited, then there’s only so much you can personally do.
Meal deliveries and food shopping orders delivered to the door are options. But when cooking is not easy for them and they’re having fundamental difficulties with managing their affairs, then perhaps simplifying their daily living is a better solution. Assisted living solutions can bridge the gap between what your loved one needs and what you can provide. It can also radically simplify their financial situation too.