As a child of elderly parents, it can be heartbreaking to realize that your parents are no longer able to provide for themselves financially. It can be an even bigger shock to learn that "my elderly parents are broke". It is understandable to feel overwhelmed and not know what to do to help. This blog post will discuss tips for children of elderly parents who want to support them financially in times of need.
Talk to your parents about their finances
It can be challenging to bring up the subject of money with your elderly parents, especially if they are not in the best financial situation. But having an honest conversation about their finances is essential if you want to help them get back on their feet.
Before starting this conversation, make sure you have a good understanding of the state of their finances. Gather any documents related to their budget and debts, including income and bills, so you can better understand where they stand.
When speaking to your parents, be respectful and compassionate. Avoid passing judgment or being critical of their situation. Instead, focus on understanding their current situation and offer helpful solutions. Be patient and listen as they express their concerns, and provide emotional support. There may be many reasons, both functionally and emotionally, that got them to this position. Allowing them to share as freely as possible can prevent them from closing off, prolonging the situation.
Once you understand their finances better, you can start discussing potential solutions. Ask your parents if they have any ideas for how they could save money or earn more income. You can also suggest practical strategies, such as cutting unnecessary expenses, making a budget, or consolidating debt.
Having an open and honest conversation with your parents about their finances will help you create a plan of action to help them get back on track. Remember that this is a process; it may take some time before your parents are back on solid financial footing.
Help them create a budget
Creating a budget is essential for elderly parents with little cash flow. It can help them prioritize spending and ensure they're not overspending in certain areas. To help them create a budget, you should:
• Talk to your parents about their expenses and income. Ask them to list out all of their regular bills and how much money they bring in each month.
• Help them set realistic goals for themselves. Encourage them to set aside a certain amount of money each month for necessities like food, rent, utilities, etc.
• Assist them with tracking their spending. You can use a budgeting app or paper budgeting notebook to help them stay on top of their expenses and determine where they can make cuts.
• Provide guidance and support. Help them understand the basics of budgeting and how it can be used to help them reach their financial goals.
For some, the household culture makes it difficult to get the complete financial picture. If your relationship with your parents prohibits these kinds of uncomfortable conversations, it can be helpful to set them up with a financial advisor or senior citizens coach that can assist in getting this done for you.
Assist them with their bills
It can be overwhelming for elderly parents to stay on top of their bills. You can help them by managing and tracking their bills as a supportive child. Make sure the bills are paid on time and do not incur any late fees or penalties. Talk to your parents about setting up automatic payments so that bills are paid on time. You can also help them review their bills and make sure they aren’t being overcharged. By helping them manage their bills, you’re taking one more worry off their plate and allowing them to focus on other essential things.
For you, this may feel like another thing on your list and can cause resentment. It's important to be reminded that aging is a process for them as well, and they may be dealing with physical, psychological, and emotional changes that they haven't shared with you. Your feelings are valid, and their circumstance doesn't mean you cannot recognize your own experiences in this journey as their child.
Your parents are likely in a highly vulnerable position with the likelihood of shame surrounding the issue. They may feel it's their job to protect and care for you, so convincing them to let you in this way will be hard. If a conflict arises, try to remember this fact, so you can remain calm when discussing things.
Encourage them to get rid of unnecessary expenses
The first step to helping your elderly parents get out of financial trouble is to help them identify any unnecessary expenses. These are expenses that are not essential for their well-being or basic needs, such as luxury items or subscriptions that they can do without. Talk to your parents about their finances and help them make a budget so you can both identify which expenses are essential and which ones can be eliminated.
It’s essential to approach the conversation about cutting back on unnecessary expenses in a supportive manner. Let them know that this is an opportunity to get their finances back on track and provide more security for their future. Point out the potential long-term benefits of reducing their spending and suggest ways they could use the extra money towards more important goals like debt repayment or emergency savings.
Another way to encourage your parents to avoid unnecessary expenses is to help them find alternatives. For example, if they’re paying for cable television but rarely watch it, suggest that they switch to a streaming service instead. Or, if they have a subscription to a magazine they no longer read, suggest that they cancel it and explore free alternatives like digital versions or even print libraries.
Finally, encourage your parents to take advantage of the free activities available in their local community. Participating in activities like visiting museums or the library can give them something fun and exciting without breaking the bank.
This is often another area of pushback because many expenses could be habitual such as gift-giving on holidays or keeping their lights on at night to discourage burglars. The more you understand about the items they resist getting rid of, the better you can work together to find less expensive alternatives to reduce the costs of living while keeping their peace of mind and joy.
Help them find ways to make extra money
Making extra money can help to ease the financial burden of elderly parents. If your parents are able, helping them to find ways to generate more income can be a huge relief.
First, consider if your parents are eligible for any government assistance. Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid can provide additional income or help cover medical expenses. Your local government may also have programs to save them money on utilities, home services, or capital improvements.
If your parents can work, they may be able to take on a part-time job or freelance gigs. You can help them research job opportunities that fit their skills and abilities. Even if they cannot work, there may be other ways to make extra money, such as selling items online or doing surveys for cash.
You can also look into other types of assistance programs that may be available. Some states offer grants and loan programs for seniors who need extra help. There are also national organizations that offer grants or other financial support to those who qualify.
Finally, you can offer your parents the opportunity to use your home as a source of extra income. Your parents could rent out a room or a portion of their house to generate additional income. You can also help them set up an Airbnb or other rental service to bring in some extra money.
No matter what methods you choose, finding ways for your parents to make extra money can make a huge difference in their financial security. With some research and assistance, you can help your elderly parents stay financially stable.