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Signs Your Aging Loved Ones Might Need Financial Help

By: Scott Van Den Berg, CFP®, ChFC®, CEPA®, AIF®, CRPS®, CMFC®,  AWMA®

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As your loved ones age, they become more susceptible to ailments and diseases that can impair both their cognitive abilities and motor function. In the U.S., 10% of Americans ages 65 and older have dementia and another 22% have mild cognitive impairment. As everyday activities become harder, your loved ones financial stability can begin to waver. In fact, beginning at age 60, studies have shown that people may begin experiencing a decrease in their financial literacy score by one point per year. Whether your loved ones are displaying signs of impairment, or you’re worried they simply can’t keep up with their finances any longer, we have four signs below that could help you determine whether it’s time to step in.

Sign 1: Everyday activities are becoming cumbersome.

As your loved ones experience a cognitive or physical decline, everyday activities such as going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, walking from one part of the house to another, and preparing meals can become difficult to do on their own. If you start to see a lack of self-care or if they are experiencing new difficulties this could signal that something is wrong. When basic tasks become hard to do, money management can get challenging as well.

Sign 2: Finances go unattended.

Pay close attention to new or unrecognized phone numbers calling your loved ones and try to listen to voice mail messages when you can. If a credit card bill isn’t paid, debt collectors will begin calling often and persistently. Check their credit score regularly or set up alerts for sudden drops in their score, which could be an alert to missed bills or forgotten payments. Additionally, pay attention to piles of undeposited checks and unopened bills.

Sign 3: Unusual spending habits & complaints about money.

Think about how your loved ones saved and spent earlier in their life. Were they frugal? Were they big spenders? Has this pattern changed? One tell-tale sign that aging loved ones are suffering from cognitive impairment is a sudden large or unusual purchase. For example, splurging on things that don’t fit into their lifestyle or on gifts for others can be signs that your loved ones are losing the ability to make financially sound decisions. If your loved ones begin mentioning money problems, listen up. While some may outright ask for money, others may be too shy or ashamed to do so. If they bring up their money issues with you when finances haven't been part of past conversations, this is a sign they are struggling.

Sign 4: Scammers are reaching them.

Senior citizens are the most targeted demographic for scammers because they are financially stable, polite and trusting of others, and often interested in buying health products that combat ailments of aging. You can help your loved ones combat scammers by making them aware that scammers take advantage of their age group. To help them avoid falling for any scams, give them pointers on what to look out for. A common con is for scammers to impersonate family members, specifically children or grandchildren, to quickly send money. The impersonator may ask your loved ones to “not tell Mom” about their predicament. We suggest having a family meeting ASAP with your loved ones so they can hear firsthand that it is always okay to confirm the truth prior to sending money. Another common con is “too good to be true” offers. Keep an eye on loved ones mail and emails for sweepstakes entries or offers for free vacations. As their judgment begins to lapse, these types of offers can become appealing.

Call Scott Van Den Berg, or your Wealth Advisor, at Century Management today to learn the ways we can help you and your loved ones manage these challenges.

Disclosures: Century Management ("CM") is an independently registered investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Century Management is also registered as a Portfolio Manager in the Province of Ontario. This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. This information is not intended to be tax advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. A full description of our Firm’s business practices, including our Firm’s investment management services, wealth plans and advisory fees, are supplied in our Form ADV Part 2A and/or Form CRS which is available on our website, www.centman.com, or by calling 512-329-0050.                            CM-24-02-23