Are you navigating one of the tougher aspects of family caregiving? Older parents who need help with finances should feel comfortable talking to you, but that doesn't mean they are.
Bills aren't being paid on time. There are overdue notices. You don't want to take over, but you also need to take over to prevent disconnections or foreclosure.
Discussions of helping with finances can pose new issues. Your dad is likely to say he's fine and can handle his finances. He may try to hide things from you. He may start to take out risky loans in order to stay afloat, which poses new problems. Breakthrough the unease you all feel and help him get his finances under control with these tips.
Don't Be Confrontational
Have a calm discussion about his finances. Ask him where he could use help. Is he okay paying his bills, but he has a hard time reading the due dates? If it's as simple as that, you could organize bills for him and join him on days when he pays them.
He may have more energy and a clearer mind after he's had breakfast. If that's the case, stop by and cook him a full breakfast. After the meal, you can sit down and discuss his finances. Don't try to talk to him when he's tired. That's when he's more likely to be cranky and emotional.
Show Him How You Pay Bills and Manage Money
Bring your laptop and show him how you're set up. If you use online banking, show him the setup. He may be impressed enough to ask if you could set his accounts the same way. Teach him how to use it or set up automatic payments to make sure everything is paid on time.
Discuss the “What Ifs”
Talk about the “what if” situations that could happen. If he doesn't have a back-up person to handle his finances in emergency situations, what happens? If he's driving on wintry roads and is in a crash, who pays the bills while he's recovering in the hospital?
When he realizes that many things could happen that would impact his ability to pay bills and manage his money, he might like the idea of having you step in rather than having the state pick someone. You can set up a financial power of attorney at this point.
Talk About the Benefits of Home Care
Finances aside, he may simply need help keeping his home organized. If he's not paying bills because they're covered by stacks of newspapers and flyers, a caregiver would be a big help. He could have a caregiver bring in and sort his mail. All bills would go into one place for him to open and pay.
Discuss organization services and the others that help him remain independent. He could have a caregiver driving him to the bank, joining him on shopping trips, or helping with housework. Call a home care agency to learn more about prices.