When and how should family help their aging elders

It is difficult for family to know when to step in and assist aging parents with their financial affairs. Conversations about money, bills and care expenses are uncomfortable, and aging parents may become defensive, suspicious or confused.

Unfortunately, as we all age, we inevitably lose the capacity to manage our financial affairs. Cognitive decline and family influences are powerful force that also makes elders easy targets for scam artists, misleading advertising and offers for high-priced, unnecessary goods and services.

Family should consider raising the topic of financial management for their aging parents well before they become incapacitated. Dealing with financial issues before the onset of cognitive decline allows aging parents to be fully involved in the management of their estate. Early and full involvement by aging parents not only preserves their dignity and right to self-determination but also allows family to have the mutual benefit of knowledge of their financial affairs.

A durable power of attorney or a trust can give the aging parent continued control over their financial affairs while also empowering family to step in and help when needed.

Family and caregivers who lack legal authority to intervene when warning signs arise have a challenging task ahead. At least one family member will need to move quickly in the Courts to acquire the legal authority to act on their parent’s behalf that can be avoided by simply planning ahead.

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