Getting old is hard. Your parents’ ability to manage
their own finances may decline as they age. Helping
them with money matters is a sensitive issue you need
to approach carefully.

When you hit a certain age of your life, you may realize
that one topic keeps coming up in conversations with
your friends: care for aging parents. The concerns
aren’t limited to health care managing money is also a
big problem.

Parents aren’t likely to recognize their own declining
abilities, so knowing when and how to step in to help is
important. Here are some tips:

1. Watch for warning signs. When visiting your
parents, take a look around the house. Are there
unpaid bills piling up on the counter? If the things
that are normally done are not, it may be a red flag
that your parents are struggling with the upkeep.

2. Be aware of the people in your parents’ lives.
Make sure that you have a list handy of people you
can contact, and keep the lines of communication
open. Friends, caregivers and church members
can offer insight to any changes in your parents’
behavior. Don’t forget your parents’ professional
contacts, such as their attorney, doctor, insurance
agent and financial advisor.

3. Be subtle. Most people have a difficult time
relinquishing control over their finances. Try
offering guidance and help instead of taking over
their finances completely.

Suggest that you can help balance their bank
statements or set up online banking and automatic
bill payments. This offers an excuse to start a
discussion on their financial matters and helps
relieve the stress on your parents to stay on top of
everything. You can also start the conversation by
purchasing a book about financial concerns and
discuss the book with them.

4. Work with your siblings. Sharing responsibility
can be tricky, but keeping everyone in the loop is
critical. If one sibling lives closer, in-person tasks
may be easier for him or her. Set up monthly
telephone meetings with siblings to make sure that
everyone is aware of the situation and can make
decisions together.

5. Prepare a power of attorney. This is a form that
authorizes you to make business or financial
decisions on your parents’ behalf. If they are willing
to sign and notarize a power of attorney, you have
greater oversight of your parents’ finances. Make
sure that you notify the family and that everyone
knows who has power of attorney.

No one likes to lose independence. Helping your
parents with this transition is difficult, but it’s in their
best interest and yours.