Money Management Assistance for Older Adults
Money management is tough enough for the young and healthy. Consider the added degree of difficulty for older adults – especially those whose health, eyesight or social support systems are no longer as robust.
Each year, the media report tales of seniors preyed upon by scam artists purporting to "help" them. Don't become a similar statistic. Instead, take steps to protect yourself – and those you care for – by proactively establishing a solid, well-organized money management system.
Elements to Consider
Before you seek external money management assistance, take stock of your financial status and needs, and determine where you might need help, now or some time in the future. These parts could include:
• Budgeting and bill-paying – handling monthly bills, reconciling accounts and operating according to a budget.
• Medical insurance claims – ensuring timely premium payments, obtaining reimbursements and filing paperwork correctly.
• Financial and legal planning – making sure your financial and legal needs are handled properly.
• Income tax preparation – compiling documentation and receipts throughout the year and taking advantage of all available tax deductions and credits.
• Handling government benefits – checking on Social Security, disability and/or veteran's benefits to ensure you receive what's due to you.
Assistance from Family
A family member who lives nearby may be the most logical and appropriate source of help for your financial needs. Just make sure this individual is experienced in all of the facets of assistance you require – and can be explicitly trusted. Family members can be a great help, but unfortunately, they are also the leading source of financial abuse against seniors – and many such crimes are never reported to authorities.
Even with a trustworthy family member, it may be a good idea to appoint a financial professional to provide dual oversight of your finances. For example, request that an attorney, accountant or [bank/credit union] trust officer also periodically review your financial statements. Besides safeguarding against fraud, this action can also help eliminate errors or oversights.
The Center for Healthy Aging (www.healthyagingprograms.org) offers a daily money management program that's become a model for similar programs around the country.* Trained and closely supervised program volunteers provide older adults with in-home assistance on handling their financial affairs.
If you'd simply like to learn how to save, invest and manage your money better, check out the federal government's free information at www.mymoney.gov.* On this site, or by calling 1-888-696-6639, you can also order a free "My Money Tool Kit" to learn more about wisely handling your money.
* Web site provided for information only. No endorsement is implied.