Start by talking with your elderly relative. Some will readily admit they need help, others will insist they can handle their affairs and resist intervention. Signs that help is necessary require some investigation. Here are some things to look for:
- Unopened mail, piles of bills scattered around.
- Unusual double entries, questionable transfers or payments in a checkbook, credit card invoice, or bank statement
- Inability to explain large payments to unknown people or companies
- Inconsistent entries for normal monthly expenses like a mortgage, rent, utilities, or services
- Account alerts or collection letters
- Lack of good records or an organized filing system for expenses and income
- Unusually large charitable donations
If you see any of the above situations, your elder may become unusually defensive or refuse to talk about finances at all. Look for signs of confusion or forgetfulness. These conversations can be difficult, but if you keep your elderly relative engaged in any decision-making process, keeping the focus on what they can do, they will be more receptive to accepting help.
It is important to listen to what they have to say. If the conversation becomes too difficult or emotional, consider getting guidance from an expert on personal financial management for elders.