Simple Financial Security Advice for Seniors
There comes a time in each person’s life when managing one’s personal finances becomes more complex than saving coins in a change jar. At this point, many seek advice from a financial advisor or a friend or family member that has a reputation for providing wise advice. Financial goals are set and a system is put into place to meet these goals because even as we age financial security is important.
As time goes on, each financial goal has most likely been faced with unexpected challenges creating the common experience of financial stress. Most people have worried about money and their future stability at one time or another. Financial concerns tend to increase as we age. Thoughts of limited time to earn are joined with the increasing cost of living.
Very few people reach retirement fully prepared to meet the financial challenges ahead. When if comes to building a plan for financial security, seniors often need assistance to best manage their finances. They may also need help to avoid financial scams. There are several ways you can help the senior in your life with this situation in order to make a positive difference in his or her quality of life.
Start With Communication
Conversations regarding important topics, such as financial and medical issues, should start with a statement that affirms your senior loved one is the decision-maker. This step presumes your loved one is not in a condition that requires a financial or medical guardian.
It is also necessary to consider that talking about financial security and finances with anyone, most significantly an older adult, is an uncomfortable topic. You, as the person that wants to help, can feel that approaching this topic makes you appear judgmental or even greedy. The older adult may not be ready to admit that he or she needs help and prefer to avoid the topic. Nonetheless, having the money talk before a crisis occurs is best for all involved.
Once the both of you agree to openly discuss the financial situation and have included any other person that should be a part of this conversation, you should be provided with a good understanding of your senior loved one’s financial affairs. From here, you should be able to determine if the outlook is stable and simply needs a plan that meets the anticipated needs and recreational desires of your loved one or it is limited and will require available assistance to adequately meet daily living costs.
Some of the questions you might ask are:
- Does he or she want to live in the current house for as long as possible?
- Would he or she want in-home care if needed?
- Has he or she considered moving to an assisted-living facility if needed?
- Does he or she have a will and, if yes, where is it?
- Has he or she considered appointing a person with power of attorney over financial affairs in case it would ever be needed?
Once a full understanding of your senior loved one’s finances are established the next step is to gather existing important financial documents. It is recommended by Consumer Reports to consolidate key financial information in a list that includes:
- names and numbers of various bank and investment accounts
- insurance information (policy numbers and providers)
- regular bills
- mortgage information
- income sources
- online access information for any of the above, if necessary
This document, along with other important documents, should be kept in a locked, fire-resistant box and one other person should have knowledge of where the key is placed.
This is a good time to update or create all important legal documents, such as medical power of attorney, wills, living wills, and healthcare directives. An updated list of prescriptions is also helpful.
Create a Plan
Using the documents and information gathered, the next step is to create a long-term plan that provides a budget, financial security, money set aside for household emergencies, and accounts designated for possible health care situations.
This plan will include applying available benefits that offset the cost to your loved one. Benefit situations will be unique to your loved one’s age, work history, and military service. The National Council on Aging provides an internet resource called BenefitCheckUp that points out benefits available in your loved one’s area.
The information collected will provide a strategy to use for future decisions regarding care needs associated with aging. From here, it is advised to start researching local care providers in order to have the best information available when it is needed.
A senior’s budget should take advantage of the many retail and service discounts given to people 55 and over. Help your senior loved one by creating a discount directory that includes places and products he or she regularly goes to or uses.
If your senior loved one’s income is limited and affects food budget decisions, the National Institute on Aging recommends the following for eating health on a budget:
- Ask the local grocer about senior discounts and available coupons.
- Consider store brands vs. name brands.
- Buying in bulk offers the best price.
- Focus on economical fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, oranges, cabbage, sweet potatoes, dark-green leafy vegetable, green peppers, and regular carrots.
- Sign up for meal delivery that usually offer one hot meal a day, such as Meals on Wheels America.
Make sure your senior loved one can enjoy life by participating in fun events. If the budget is a concern, help discover affordable entertainment opportunities by researching local places that appeal to seniors or find other ways for them to have an active social life.
Once the financial conversation has begun and a plan is set in place, it is key to stay informed for financial security. Life will always throw curveballs and the best of plans will need adjustments when this happens. An organized strategy will help the senior in your life stay on course to meeting all of life’s goals.