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Signs Older Adults Need Help With Their Finances

Whether dealing with medical conditions, the stress of an ailing spouse or simply aging, seniors may eventually need help dealing with life’s daily necessities, including finances. And, though caregivers are generally aware that seniors might reach a point where outside financial assistance is needed, it’s not always clear when this becomes a necessity.


In this article, caregivers and relatives can find a list of a few signs that point to the need for outside intervention:


Unopened Mail


One of the most telling signs of financial distress is when the piles of unopened mail and are growing - bills and checks, alike. There can be a number of reasons why a loved one may leave the mail unopened, but a few major concerns could be that they are experiencing:

  • cognitive decline, like the early signs of dementia, and are unable to keep up with their finances.

  • physical decline, like fatigue or arthritis, which makes it challenging to open, sort and manage mail or write checks.

Sometimes bills go unaddressed because an aging individual may not have the means to pay them, but there can be more pressing reasons behind their neglect.


Erratic Spending



The occasional lavish purchase is not necessarily something that requires concern, but general unstable financial behavior can signal that there is something deeper than irresponsibility happening with an older loved one. Look for:

  • Unexplained or frequently forgotten purchases

  • Large or nonsensical purchases

  • Large unexplained money transfers

With age comes the tendency to become more forgetful, however these behaviors could imply impaired judgement, which can be an early sign of dementia, or elder fraud. Discuss an ailing loved one’s memory loss and concerning behavior with their primary care physician, or investigate further into their bills to uncover any potential scams that they may have fallen prey to.


Financial Avoidance



It’s not exactly unheard of for loved ones to become uncomfortable with discussions about money, but if there is an emotional reaction whenever the topic is broached, it can hint at an underlying struggle. Pay attention to situations where a loved one avoids costs to a problematic degree, such as:

  • not fulfilling dietary needs

  • failing to fill medication prescriptions

  • missing out on family outings or events

  • not paying for household utilities

Losing independence is hard, which means it can be difficult to for older adults to acknowledge that they need help. They may be embarrassed about their struggles or suspicious that others will try to steal from them, so approach them in a relaxed environment to express concerns. It’s natural to want to conserve money, but when it begins to affect health, wellbeing, and life as a whole, it’s time for loved ones to become involved.


These are just a few signs that can suggest an older adult may need help with their finances.

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