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Seasons of Change: Recognizing When an Aging Parent Needs Help With Finances

By Guest Writer Hal Salazar of Elders Today

Without exception, time affects us all. Even those who seemed invincible when we were little are eventually subject to the advancement of aging. Sometimes, we must intervene to make their latter years safe and economically secure. Identifying when that moment has arrived can be difficult. Once you do, though, you need to know what steps you can take next. Use the following information from The Council on Aging to help you decide what comes next for you and your family members.

Recognizing Signs of Compromise

As you visit your loved one, keep an eye open for signs of their no longer being self-sufficient. Memory problems are common in those who are aging. In the early stages, they amount to little more than an inconvenience. Over time, they can progress to a much worse state. The Alzheimer’s Association cites research showing that between 10% and 15% of those with mild cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's, later develop dementia. Individuals with a cognitive impairment may lose their train of thought while speaking, become impulsive, or forget appointments. The good news is you can diagnose and treat these conditions. Seek professional care if the situation merits it.

Unusual purchases are another signal you must become involved. Find out whether money is being spent frivolously by offering to help pay bills. Actively discuss every item and the reasons for each purchase. Beware that this segment of the population is particularly susceptible to scams. The National Council on Aging notes that awareness is key.

Physical problems may become apparent. Trouble walking is an obvious cause for concern. Getting an appropriate walker can help lessen this difficulty. If one still isn't enough to solve the issue, the individual might start displaying poor hygiene or neglecting household duties. Moods may become volatile. What out for hints of depression or loss of interest in activities.

Taking Steps Toward Financial Protection

One way of helping someone in this condition is by hiring a caregiver. Putting a professional in charge of these duties allows you to concentrate solely on the person's financial situation. Before hiring anyone, be sure to conduct a proper interview and verify experience with nursing care.

Cut up credit card offers and questionable promotional materials. Buy a quality shredder to make the job easy as pie. Existing credit cards may be accumulating debt. You can play a part in negotiating a settlement. Know how to communicate with representatives of these companies before calling.

Discourage spending with cash, and encourage purchases that use secure electronic transactions. Among their advantages, they provide records of where money is going.

This may prove to be the perfect time for your loved one to sell their home, whether it’s to downsize or move into a retirement community or an assisting living facility. The proceeds from the home sale will come in handy, whatever the future living arrangements are. The first step is finding out how much will be made when selling the property, so use an online home sale calculator to get a good estimate.

It may make sense to give power of attorney to a trusted insider. Among the benefits, this individual can help assure bills are getting paid. Putting one in place might also open up discussions about future wishes and concerns. There are numerous types of POAs. Researching them beforehand will help you choose the one that best suits your needs.

For seniors who are still in charge of a business, the time has come to sell it. Consider making a deal with an interested family member. Ahead of putting it on the market, get a professional valuation. That way, you'll have an objective concept of its worth. The final assessment should calculate every related asset, including inventory and real estate.

It's heart-wrenching when someone you care for is no longer capable of self-care. Take solace in the notion that you can play a role in fostering conditions of economic security. Learn to recognize when someone needs your assistance, then take appropriate actions.

The Council on Aging is a nonprofit organization serving the aging population of Etowah County, working to enhance the quality of life for seniors age 55 and older and disabled persons age 50 and older. Please click here to donate.

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