Mom’s taken care of you her whole life—and now’s the time to return the favor. If her cognitive function is declining as she ages, you’ll likely be doing more and more to assist her.
One decision that may be more difficult than helping with housework or driving her to appointments is monitoring her checkbook. Finances are a touchy subject, especially if Mom is convinced she’s still able to control hers. But if you notice these signs, it may be time to help:
If every time you walk into Mom’s place she has a stack of bills on the coffee table, she might not be paying them on time. Conversely, she might be paying bills multiple times because she forgot that she paid them already.
2. Suspicious Spending
Does Mom have a new handbag that cost a pretty penny? If you’ve noticed uncharacteristic spending habits from her, investigate further. She may have just felt like splurging, or, if she is buying things she can’t afford, there could be an underlying issue.
3. Math Mistakes
If basic money math, such as tipping at a restaurant, making change or balancing the checkbook stumps her, it may be time to help out.
4. Susceptible to Scams
Mom’s phone is ringing off the hook, and every time you answer it’s someone asking for money for some product or another, usually promising enhanced vitality or cognitive function. Fast-talking con artists know that seniors are typically trusting—making them prime targets for scams.
5. Friend or Foe?
Mom has a new friend in her life who seems very interested in her finances. If this person seems to be cutting Mom off from her normal social support, treat this as a red flag: There may be reason to worry that this new “friend” is taking advantage of Mom and her money.
How to Take Over
It may be difficult to help with Mom’s finances until you get a durable power of attorney designation. This document needs to be signed while Mom is mentally sound, so it’s important to discuss her finances with her early on. Creditors and banks won’t work with you if you don’t have a power of attorney.
If you’ve been granted permission to help with Mom’s finances, educate yourself on her bank account information, medical health insurance, social security, long-term care insurance and other financial information. Set up a meeting with her financial planner, if she has one, to go over all this information. This blog post from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers more information on how to manage someone else’s money.
If Mom is having difficulty managing finances, she may be facing other life challenges as well. A senior living community can support her with services that allow her to retain her independence for as long as possible. Contact Life Care Services to learn more about what we offer in our communities.