Four Reasons Your Parents Might Be in Financial Trouble
- They are dealing with debt – Perhaps they’re dealing with the aftermath of a large, unexpected medical bill. Or it could be that years of generously supporting their children and grandchildren have left their finances in shambles. Whatever the cause, debt among older Americans is a growing trend. In 2010, the average debt for a family in which the head of household was age 75 or older was $30,288. In 2016, that number grew to $36,757.1
- They are falling for fraud – According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, older adults have been targeted or disproportionately affected by fraud. Moreover, older adults have reported much higher dollar losses to certain types of fraud than younger consumers.2
Why do scammers target older individuals? There are many explanations for this trend. Some older individuals lack an awareness about major financial issues. Others may be attractive targets for scammers because they have access to retirement account assets or have built up home equity. Additional factors that increase an older adult’s vulnerability to scams include cognitive decline and isolation from family and friends.
- They aren’t used to managing finances – The loss of a spouse can create many challenges for the survivor, especially if the deceased spouse was in charge of finances. Many widows or widowers might find themselves keeping track of statements, paying bills, budgeting, and handling other financial matters for the first time, which can be a complicated reality to face.
- They struggle with change – As financial institutions continue to innovate and increase online and mobile access to customer accounts, it can be difficult for older consumers to keep up. For example, some older adults may struggle with accessing their financial information online. Others might get frustrated or confused when financial institutions implement new policies and procedures, especially if they’ve had an account with an institution for decades.
One report described the most common issues that older consumers identified with bank accounts or services. The top three complaints involved account management (47%), deposits and withdrawals (27%), and problems caused by low funds (12%).3
Ways you can help
- Set up a meeting with a financial professional – Encourage your parents to meet with a professional to evaluate their financial situation.
- Help them reduce spending – Look for big and small ways that they can scale back on expenses, such as downsizing to a smaller home, cutting cable plans, or canceling unnecessary memberships/subscriptions.
- Have them tested for dementia – If you’ve noticed behavioral or memory changes in one or both of your parents, share your concerns with a medical professional. Cognitive decline can result in difficulty managing finances.
- Help them apply for assistance – The National Council on Aging has a website, benefitscheckup.org, that can help you determine your parents’ eligibility for federal, state, and private benefit programs. Additionally, if you have specific questions on Medi-Cal for long-term care, please contact the Law Offices of Lisa C. Bryant, INC at (408) 286-2122 or (714) 276-2788 to discuss your options.