Many parents have responsibly handled financial matters during the course of their lives. As age advances, however, seniors can start to develop cognitive issues that impact financial acuity. Adult children should be aware about their parents’ finances well before decline sets in.
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of seniors age 65 and over experience some level of mild cognitive impairment. The cognitive functions may remain stable or improve throughout the rest of their lives. Or, mild cognitive impairment can progress into cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive decline sets in gradually. In fact, seniors are less likely to notice symptoms before their loved ones do. The condition may at first have little impact on social functioning, work performance or ability to handle tasks in everyday life.
Aging seniors and their loved ones should be able to both identify and be alert for symptoms. Cognitive decline manifests when the elderly forget appointments, dates or recent conversations and events. Decision-making can become overwhelming. Similarly, making plans will become a challenge.
If given specific instructions, seniors who experience cognitive decline will find them difficult to follow. During travel, the aging parent may lose her sense of direction. Organizing tasks becomes uncharacteristically difficult, and seniors with cognitive decline will make impulsive decisions.
These symptoms of cognitive decline can adversely affect financial matters. Aging parents with cognitive decline, for instance, may suddenly and rashly donate large funds to a charity or write a check to unfamiliar organizations. Record keeping of financial accounts may be overloaded with errors.
While cognitive decline can be treated and cognitive reserves rebuilt, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are progressive conditions that have no existing cure. Experts conclude that cognitive impairment may be slowed through treatments, like neurofeedback, working memory training or light therapies.
Still, adult children should monitor their parents’ cognitive health and look out for signs of impairment. Whether or not cognitive decline emerges, it is advised that family members be prepared early on to handle their elderly parents’ finances should they become too overwhelming to manage.
The first step in developing a readiness to take over Mom and Dad’s finances should it become necessary is to hold a candid discussion with the parents—well before any symptoms of cognitive impairment are apparent. Bring up financial commitments, legal preparations and the following:
1. Durable power of attorney
Discuss whether or not either parent has named a durable power of attorney (POA) to assume responsibility of finances and medical care. Without a POA, adult children will have to go to court to seek guardianship and access financial accounts on their behalf.
2. Financial records
The location of financial records and documents should be revealed to adult children so that they may be accessed if both parents become incapacitated. For example, if Mom and Dad keep a lockbox or safe, ask where they are located and the key codes to open them.
3. Bank account information
Aging parents may deposit all their funds into a bank account. Adult children should receive the name of the bank and account information. Parents may work with an investment company or broker; loved ones should be made privy to the details of investment accounts.
4. Mortgage companies
Mom and Dad may still live in the same house they’ve had for years. Family members are advised to ask what mortgage company their parents use. Mortgage information should be discussed, as well as monthly expenses like utility bills, car payments and credit card debts.
5. Bill paying
Aging parents are encouraged to let adult children know their preferred method for bill paying. For instance, Mom and Dad may still write paper checks. Or, they may utilize automatic deductions from a checking account. If online banking services are utilized, adult children should know.
Money may continue to enter parents’ bank accounts via pension checks, investment dividends or other forms of income, such as disability or alimony. Adult children ought to be aware of the various forms of income their parents continue to receive.
7. Government assistance
Parents might receive some forms of government assistance, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits. In the event a parent becomes incapacitated, the adult children must determine their parent’s status and eligibility. Managing parents’ accounts may require further permissions.
Families should find out how their parents receive Medicare coverage. Adult children should also know if their parents carry any insurance other than Medicare. For example, seniors may have health benefits from a pension plan. Military veterans may receive healthcare through the Veterans Administration.
8. Long-term care insurance
Long-term care insurance, if purchased, should be discussed. A typical insurance plan will not cover the cost of senior living facilities. It is best that adult children know what their parents can afford in terms of housing and care if they did not purchase a long-term care policy.
9. Financial professionals
Lastly, family members who anticipate taking over their parents’ financial matters are urged to request the contact information of accountants, financial planners and attorneys with whom they work. Be aware of any estate planning activities, such as wills and trusts.
Before elderly parents develop cognitive impairments or are physically injured, adult children should be prepared to handle their financial matters. While loved ones take care of finances, Assisting Hands Home Care will tend to the daily comforts and well-being of aging parents.
Our reputable home care agency services the everyday non-medical needs of seniors in the comfort of home. Core responsibilities include assistance with personal care activities, transportation to doctor’s offices or errands, grocery shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping and pleasant companionship.
Assisting Hands Home Care service options are flexible, ranging from short-term care, like respite and hospice care. We also offer 24-hour care, live-in care, overnight care and post-hospitalization care. If your loved one is diagnosed with dementia, we provide compassionate Alzheimer’s and Dementia home care services.
Families with elderly parents living in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington FL and surrounding areas, are encouraged to consult the area’s most dependable senior care service, Assisting Hands Home Care. We ensure that our care recipients are treated with dignity. Call us at (561) 781-5885 for a complimentary in-home consultation to get started.