Helping an Elderly Parent Handle Debt

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How to Help an Elderly Parent Handle Debt in Portland, ME

Contrary to popular belief, retired seniors aren’t immune to debt. If your aging parent is facing mounting credit card bills or other forms of debt, there are a few things you can do to prevent him or her from falling deeper into debt. 

Set Up Joint Accounts

When you set up joint accounts, you can help handle your loved one’s finances. This gives you access to his or her purchases, ensuring he or she isn’t wasting money on unnecessary items. Even though keeping your loved one on the accounts as a joint user gives him or her some form of independence, it also allows you to make sure bills are being paid.

Take Charge

Sometimes seniors need someone else to step in and take charge, especially if they’re beginning to forget which bills are due and which ones they’ve already paid. First, make sure your loved one isn’t paying high interest rates. If he or she is paying off high-interest credit cards, try to get the rates reduced. Many companies are receptive to consolidation plans that greatly reduce their annual percentage rates. If you’re worried your parent has a spending problem, offer to go with him or her to debt counseling. Also, consider doing the grocery shopping or running your loved one’s errands (or hire an in-home caregiver who can) so you make more cost-effective decisions, such as purchasing generic items or only things that are on sale.

Cognitive issues such as forgetting to pay bills may indicate your loved one needs help with other everyday tasks. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of senior care. Portland Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

Contact Individual Creditors

Often, debt can be managed with a simple phone call or letter to each of your loved one’s creditors. For example, a senior who owes government debt, such as income taxes, may be able to work out a payment plan that takes individual income into account. Medical debt can often be repaid on a sliding schedule, or an organization may be willing to help your loved one. Making an honest effort to repay certain debts can end collection actions, such as constant phone calls and threats of lawsuits.

The many tasks involved in helping your loved one handle his or her finances may seem daunting, and the extra worry can take a toll on your wellbeing. Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. Portland families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation. 

Save One Card & Cancel the Rest

Credit cards should never be used as a replacement for money. Credit card debt can quickly pile up, especially when several credit cards are being used in rotation. Help your loved one get in the habit of using cash for groceries and bills, and cut up all but one credit card. Compare the balance and interest rates before choosing which card to keep, and use it only for emergencies. You might even consider hanging on to the card to prevent your loved one from using it unnecessarily.

Create a Budget

You can create a budget plan for your loved one by subtracting the bills (grocery, mortgage, car insurance, water, electric, etc.) from his or her monthly income. Then put half of what’s left over each month into paying off the debt. The remaining money can be deposited into a separate checking account reserved for the sole purpose of paying off past debt. When you help your loved one create a budget, he or she can determine the amount of money that needs to be spent on bills and other items or services each month. This may include:

• Medication
• Groceries 
• Outings
• Shopping
• Insurance
• Social activities

Financial management is a challenge for most people, and it can be even more difficult for aging adults. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849 to schedule a free in-home consultation.