Managing finances is a source of high stress in any home, and our aging parents are no exception. After decades of usual routines, employment, and budgets, it can be unsettling for anyone to suddenly live in a different financial reality. Finding different ways to ease loved one’s financial stress can make their senior years as easy and comfortable as possible.
Aging loved ones might hide any strain they’re feeling. Here’s some signs to watch for, as well as some resources available to help lighten their financial load.
A Few Tips for Financial Partnership
Whether acclimating to a new, reduced income or an increased level of forgetfulness, minor monetary hiccups can turn into larger financial burdens. There are ways to keep a pulse on your parent’s financial situation while still championing their independence.
Do Not Call List
Make sure an aging loved one is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. Due to the fast-paced nature of technology, our older parents are often the targets for scam calls, sign-up services, and more through their phone and email. Getting them added to this list is the first step in removing an unnecessary layer of daily financial pressure. Find the registry and instructions here.
Teamwork for Projects
As much as possible, make yourself available for appointments (such as home or car repairs) to act as a sounding board for our loved ones as they make these more significant purchases. Your aging parents will likely enjoy the company and you can be present to encourage more economical options when available.
Mail can be overwhelming, especially in one’s golden years when the mailbox seems to get a little fuller each passing month. Make sure their mail is getting tended to—that bills are not past-due, that mailers asking for money are being tossed, and to get a pulse on their general correspondences. This habit will allow us better to understand our aging parent’s network and interests while also giving us financial insight.
Invest in Money-Saving Technologies
Simple purchases such as a smart thermostat or LED light bulbs can make technology work for a loved one. While there are upfront costs, these items pay for themselves quickly. Smart thermostats can reduce annual energy bills by 10-15%, while LED bulbs draw only 25% of incandescent bulbs’ energy. With a little investment, we can save a loved one immensely on bills over the years.
Resources to Ease Loved One's Financial Stress
While partnering with our elderly parent for good spending patterns is ideal, sometimes our family members may still find themselves in need of additional financial help. Thankfully, there are programs designed to address some of these needs. While these programs may not reduce all high monthly costs, they can ease some of the financial stress of a loved one.
Programs for Home Cost Savings
- Energy Bill Assistance: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a national program administered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that aids in deferring energy bill costs. While this program is not necessarily designed specifically for those in a higher age demographic, many of their recipients are over 60 years of age and are in a higher prioritization class. The program varies from state to state, but Washington State’s individual website and application platform are readily available.
- Weatherization Assistance Programs (WAP): Like LIHEAP, a federal program is designed to make a loved one’s home more energy stable and efficient, saving them from ghastly bills. From aiding in necessary repairs to upgrading windows, the program helps make a home cheaper to sustain and safer, and more comfortable for a loved one. Again, this program is not necessarily exclusively for aging adults. However, they are disproportionately served by this program and receive prioritization in their application. Search for your local WAP office throughhere.
Local Connections Designed for Support
Most states have dozens of organizations, programs, and services that can financially assist seniors. While the number of agencies and resources can be overwhelming, each government municipality (usually county) has an Adult Services department that will host a centralized record of the available resources.
Usually, these departments offer Case Management that can help a senior navigate the many services they can use. These services can range from free transportation to rent assistance programs, to free legal advocacy for unjust financial situations.
Financial Stress is Common and Manageable
Financial stress affects all of us at some point, and it can be an isolating feeling. However, with some tips, communication, and the use of local resources, you can help ease loved one’s financial stress. If you’d like additional resources, please connect with us and share your concerns or tips with others.