Two Ways to Help Seniors Manage Their Money

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The money a senior saves throughout his or her life represents more than just accumulated assets. It represents their ability to maintain freedom and autonomy during retirement years. It also provides the ability to access any specialized care they need as they age and create a legacy to leave behind.

That means safeguarding financial resources is essential to preserving the health of seniors. Caregivers might find that daily money management services and digital money management programs are helpful resources to protect seniors against threats to their financial well-being, including loss through mismanagement or fraud.

Daily Money Management Services

Money management is a complex daily task that can be too stressful for many seniors and becomes increasingly difficult as they age. Some may find it hard to remember all the monthly, quarterly and annual bills they need to pay. Others may develop cognitive or physical issues and become disorientated and disorganized. Additionally, budgeting their spending and protecting their savings and liquid assets may be next to impossible for some, which leaves them financially vulnerable.

One solution to these problems is found with the assistance of a daily money manager, a professional hired to provide all the services needed for financial management, including bill payment, checkbook balancing, budgeting and debt management. This ongoing service is offered by a variety of professionals, including bookkeepers and accountants, social workers, volunteers and even some nurses. A senior can also find someone who offers more services than the basic check writing and account reconciliation; an individual who will negotiate with creditors, transfer funds when an account is running low, file Medicare claims, and help with investment decisions and insurance.

Many volunteer organizations can help you find daily money managers but the American Association of Daily Money Managers is a good place to start. While the AADMM doesn’t offer any certificates or licenses, managers listed on this site have signed a code of ethics through which they agree to provide the highest service standards and fair fees. This agreement also spells out their commitment to ethical behavior and confidentiality.

A DIY Alternative

If a caregiver is not able to rely on the services of a skilled daily money manager, a do-it-yourself alternative is worth considering. A digital money management system offers some of the necessary oversight and automation but lacks the personal expertise provided by an actual living, breathing money manager.

Digital money management systems, such as Mint and Wally, among others, are programs and apps that use a customer’s bank and credit card data to create budgets and track spending. The systems automatically retrieve the latest spending and deposit information from customer accounts and can be set up to make automatic payments for regularly expected bills. Often, these systems are offered free of charge with bank services or an account sign-up. Mobile apps make some of these systems even more convenient, although caregivers do need to be sure they properly log out and always use a secure connection.

While a caregiver still needs to monitor the transactions within an account to ensure the senior isn’t overspending and hasn’t become a victim of fraud or elder abuse, these systems make this kind of monitoring much easier. Caregivers who choose the DIY route should be aware of the red flags associated with fraud and elder abuse. These red flags include frequent ATM withdrawals, newly opened credit and bank accounts, and wire transfers.

Caregivers routinely focus on meeting the physical and medical needs of seniors, but providing a senior with financial management assistance adds another dimension to the care they deliver. It also helps to ensure that seniors are getting the most comprehensive care available.

(This article has been reviewed in February 2024 since it originally published in August 2016.)

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