5 Ways to Help an Elderly Parent

3 5 Ways to Help an Elderly Parent Header ImageHow can you help your elderly parent with their finances?

Well, you might be able to think of a thousand ways, but it might seem difficult to implement. After all, for many people in their twilight years, “getting help” can feel more like losing independence. At the same time, many adult children, sometimes approaching retirement themselves, are concerned about how they can help ensure their parents stay safe and stay organized in their lives.

Read on for five small ways to help that can make a big difference.

  1. Household tasks and yardwork

For many older people, the energy to manage house and home starts to wane at some point.

Whether it’s a comfortable condo or a spacious family home, home maintenance can become an increasingly difficult chore – and because it’s somewhat unpleasant for many people, it can be an easy way to help your parents get used to the idea of extra support from the kids.

You could help out by:

  • Stopping by to take out the trash or put out the garbage bins
  • Raking leaves, cleaning gutters, and pulling weeds
  • Scrubbing the kitchen, vacuuming, or mopping the floors

Some families find that it makes sense to hire someone to do this kind of work – especially if you live far away (or heartily dislike cleaning yourself).

It doesn’t have to be an expensive weekly housecleaning service: even small things can go a long way, and they can have a huge impact on your parents’ quality of life.

We’ve even found that, for some families, this kind of basic help can lay the foundations for getting more significant help later on – and being okay with it.

  1. Tagging along to appointments

Whether it’s more about helping with transportation or about providing an extra set of ears, many elderly people benefit from their children’s participation at important appointments.

For example, one of our advisors had a grandmother who tended to have trouble remembering her doctor’s recommendations (though she would never admit it). Knowing this, her daughter offered to drive her to appointments, without making it about her memory. It was a win-win: grandma was able to save herself some embarrassment and her daughter knew what was going on and could help carry out the doctor’s orders – even the doctor was relieved.

You could offer to tag along to spare your parent the traffic, to help take notes, or just to build a relationship so that your parent’s advisor or doctor knows who you are in case of an emergency.

  1. Paying bills

How to Help Your Elderly Parents Navigate Their Twilight Years 

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 We know a few people in their twilight years who have taken great pains to move their financial lives online, but for many, a checkbook and a pen is still the cornerstone of budgeting and planning.

Of course, this can also become a chore at a certain point. If your parent or parents are open to it, you could offer to do the math or even write the checks and send payments for the bills.

There are several potential benefits to this arrangement:

  • It’s a practical way to help your parents manage a minor but important aspect of their financial lives
  • It can help alert you to mistakes, red flags, or risk factors. That can include everything from an inaccurate invoice to a predatory sales situation, or even financial distress
  • You’ll grow familiar with your parents’ financial lives, which means that you’ll be more prepared to handle an emergency or significant change in circumstances

On a long-term level, seeing how your parents manage their money can also become an important signal for possible cognitive problems or even dementia. For many elderly people suffering from these problems, financial decision-making becomes more difficult and can act as an early warning that something might be wrong with their health.

  1. Researching purchase decisions

 There are numerous financial issues that benefit from research and smart shopping.

Whether it’s Medicare, which can be challenging even for an energetic and sprightly 65-year old, or home repairs, giving your parents a hand with comparison shopping, the quotation process, and even just paperwork can add a lot of value to their lives.

The possibilities are endless:

    • Finding a better deal on cable TV
    • Shopping around for home or car insurance
    • Looking for and interviewing service providers for anything from medical specialists to home repair services and housekeeping
    • Researching Medicare plans and other complicated medical paperwork
    • Checking out possible purchases and subscriptions prior to committing

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These activities aren’t just financially useful: in some cases, your involvement can help protect your parents from predatory sales tactics or even outright fraud.

  1. Direct financial help

Sometimes older people struggle just to make ends meet. The reasons are many: a health crisis throws a financial plan off track, the budget wasn

’t managed – and everything in between.

In these situations, children sometimes wonder what they can do to help.

Should they send money? Ask their parents to move in? Finance a spot in a retirement community? For many, there’s a deeper question underlying these decisions: how can I help my parents but also ensure that they are safe and maintain their dignity?

There are as many answers as there are families, but we generally advise broaching the issue with the compassion, care, and concern that you likely feel. For some families, it helps to visit a financial advisor together to get an objective perspective on the situation. For others, strengthening ties by living together or nearby is the best option.

Whatever you do, it’s important to balance your concern for your parents with your own financial needs and goals – particularly if you’re approaching retirement yourself. As we often tell clients, you don’t want to put yourself on a path towards financial difficulty when you’re in the twilight years, so don’t forget about maintaining progress towards your own priorities.

Speaking to a financial advisor can help you navigate this process. We also recommend having a look at our free eBook series on managing multi-generational priorities [link to sandwich generation download]. It can help you start the process of balancing not just your parents’ needs and your own, but your children’s as well.

Are you ready to help your parents navigate their twilight years?

There’s a wealth of things you can do – and issues you should consider – as your parents get older. To help you ensure that you’re doing what you can to smooth the road, download our free guide, How to Help Your Parents Navigate the Twilight Years. It covers everything from financial risks to lifestyle factors, and some of the key decisions that your family may need to make over the years.

Download your free copy today!


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Let Us Help!

We can discuss this topic and more at a complimentary appointment. As a bay area retirement planning coaches, we can give you a review and make suggestions based on your retirement objectives.

Important Disclosures

& Associates Insurance Services or United Planners Financial Services (United Planners). The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual and do not constitute an endorsement by United Planners.

To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial professional. Please remember that investment decisions should be based on an individual’s goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. Neither diversification nor asset allocation can ensure a profit or prevention of loss in times of declining values. United Planners does not render tax advice.

Securities and advisory services offered through United Planners Financial Services, member FINRA, SIPC. Pasquale Vitucci, CA Insurance Lic. # 0758212, is an Endorsed Agent of Vitucci & Associates Insurance Services CA Insurance Lic. # 0I06319. Vitucci & Associates Insurance Services and United Planners are separate and unrelated companies.
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Further Reading

Financial abilities and dementia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784311/