The National Council on Aging reported that a staggering 80% of American households with older adults were struggling financially in 2021. Your senior loved one or loved ones could very well be a part of that statistic, and they have been unwilling to talk about it. It can be very difficult for any of us to admit that we need help with something, and even more difficult to ask for someone else’s help. Brightwater Senior Living has compiled a few signs that your senior loved one may be experiencing financial difficulties.
Unopened Letters & Missed Calls
If you notice a lot of mail piling up or a lot of voicemails or missed calls on your loved one’s phone, it could be a sign that they have fallen behind on payments and are getting letters from debt collectors or reminders for unpaid bills. Our memory becomes less strong as we age, and your loved ones may have inadvertently fallen behind on bills, so it’s best to ask questions to determine if it’s a financial hardship, or just a lost or forgotten invoice.
Impulse Purchases or Shopping Sprees
Infomercial channels tend to prey on older adults, and your loved one might not realize just how much they’re spending on the newest gadgets and fads being advertised. They may also be buying multiples of food, clothes, or household items, which can make expenses stack up. Credit card spending is a quick way to lose financial control. Make sure to take a close look around your loved one’s home to see if you can find any indications that they’re overbuying.
Giving Away Money or Liquidating Assets
If your loved one starts sending nieces, nephews, and grandchildren large checks out of the blue, it might not be a cause for concern by itself, but pay close attention to who your loved one gives money to and why. Sudden changes in behavior like this can mean your loved one is worried about their assets and wants to make sure their children and grandchildren will still receive some sort of financial benefit.
A Disorganized House or Other Behavior Change
Financial issues can lead to stress, and stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways. If your loved one’s living space suddenly seems messier or more disorganized – dishes piled in the sink, laundry not put away, floors not cleaned or vacuumed – there may be a bigger issue at play. If your loved one relies on a housekeeper, they may have had to let them go. If they generally do their own chores and have suddenly stopped, it might be a sign of depression due to mounting financial difficulties.
If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing financial difficulties, be observant. Try to notice changes in their attitude or behavior. Make sure they know that you’re available to help, and, if possible, start putting away a rainy day fund just in case. Even if they are adamant that everything is fine, you might want to reach out to a financial expert or senior psychologist to help you determine the best course of action. Taking action early can make a big difference in their future security.
For more information and suggestions about how to help your senior loved ones through difficult life periods, visit Brightwater’s blog.