Intrusion or Just Being Safe? Monitoring Aging Parents’ Finances

Please Share

For most adult children with aging parents, there is often the dilemma of whether or not they should be involved with monitoring their aging parents spending habits. You want to honor their independence, but what if they show signs of slipping? Should you talk about it or just wait until “something happens”? Here’s something critical that every adult child needs to know: if your parent shows signs of mental decline something is already happening. Don’t wait. Research makes it clear that the ability to manage finances is the first thing to go downhill when a person is developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. A cognitive decline could be for any other reason, too. We should not ignore it.

Old woman with credit card in front of her laptop looking at you

Penny is 93 and until recently, the professionals in her life saw no particular reason to be concerned about her mental status. She was usually clear, at least until she was 92. Her accountant thought she was on top of her finances. Her lawyer did too. But Penny was managing seven separate real estate investments and no one in her family, particularly her son, was helping her. He may have thought she was fully capable as did her acquaintances. She had been successful for decades. But then her lawyer, living in a different city, wanted her to sign a document and have it notarized. She got confused and insisted that it be done incorrectly. The document came back a mess. Still, her lawyer thought Penny was probably ok, just attributing the error to “normal” forgetfulness. At, I would have advised her lawyer otherwise. Forgetfulness is a warning sign.

Her son was not so sure about Penny being capable any longer. Other little changes had popped up. He finally got her to a doctor who wrote a letter with the opinion that Penny was no longer able to manage her personal and financial affairs. That triggered her son taking over managing the property, among other things. He was not prepared for what he found.  Of the seven real estate holdings, five had IRS liens. Penny had failed to pay the property taxes. That meant that he had to sell the one building that was not encumbered to raise cash to pay back taxes on the others and to use the cash to fix up the buildings, most of which had fallen into disrepair.

Penny is a good example of an elder who is generally pretty clear but is definitely not able to handle finances any longer. The process of her cognitive decline did not happen overnight. It had taken several years. During that time she endangered her assets, lost track of her finances and could have lost most of her real estate to tax liens. Could this be prevented?

Yes, prevention can protect someone like Penny, but it typically takes close monitoring and recognizing the warning signs of diminishing capacity in an older person.  At the first signs of “slipping” monitoring needs to either begin or increase. For adult children or others in a position to help, this means getting online access to the bank accounts so you can see what is going on. If there is real estate, either go and eyeball it yourself or hire someone to do so. Look at the books. See if bills are paid, taxes are current and management is sufficient. As people age, these complex tasks can easily become too much to handle. For the heirs, it is a matter of securing what is likely your legacy from your parent. If you think you are intruding, get past that. The financial safety of your elder is at stake.  None of us can shroud ourselves in the familiar of trusting an aging parent completely, regardless of how bright, experienced and accomplished that elder may be. Age changes us. It can erode good judgment and attention to financial detail.

Monitoring finances online does not require the direct involvement of your aging parent except to give the ok. You check often and notice all financial transactions. For my own family, my hubby monitors all his 94-year-old mother’s activity. He made a deal with her to call him every day. She does. He sees all charges on her credit card and he oversees her tax preparation and payments. So far, so good.  She doesn’t have dementia but she needs watching.  We have to practice what we preach: keep a close eye on someone that age. So many aging parents would benefit from this kind of oversight. How about yours? Our book, The The Family Guide to Aging Parents can also help. Get your copy today.

By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney,

Tiny URL for this post:

Please Share
JUST RELEASED “The Family Guide To Aging Parents”
Stack Of CashCheck out our latest website: click HERE to learn more
FREE Report: “One Critical Step You Must Take To Avoid Your Aging Parents Debts”
CLICK on the image Below
Testimonials by our readers
"Thank you for the article on the "grey area". It validated what I am currently going through with my Mother. It is so painful for me to go back and forth with her behavior. I just don't know what to do about the estranged sister who has exploited well over $50K of my mother's savings and my Mothers admitted " lack of "will power" to say no to her." Robert ________________________________ "I do want to thank you for the Webinar you offered. It helped me a great deal as I was facing the need to lead our family in finding a safe living situation for our mother. That information and the other information you offered as downloads gave me much needed guidance when I was feeling tremendous anxiety and uncertainty." Betty
FREE Report: 10 Warning Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help With Money
Get Quick Tips – Newsletter FREE…. Just CLICK Below
  • What To Do When Your Aging Parent Is No Longer Safe Living Alone But Refuses To Move July 11, 2019
    What To Do When Your Aging Parent Is No Longer Safe Living Alone But Refuses To Move Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, “My mom is not safe by herself but she refuses help!” “My dad can’t manage alone…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
  • Here’s The Newest Utility Bill Scam May 30, 2019
    Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, We live in a county with a high number of older residents. A neighbor recently alerted all in our area to yet another scam she had encountered, targeting the unsuspecting. Here’s how it…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
  • A Remedy For Isolated Aging Parents April 30, 2019
    By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney, The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2060, nearly twenty-five percent of Americans will be age 65 and above.  At the same point, the number of people age 85 and older will triple. What will they…Read more ›
    Carolyn Rosenblatt
  • Warn Your Aging Parents About Fake “Social Security” Calls–They’re Scams April 10, 2019
    Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, Scams targeting our aging loved ones never seem to stop. Thieves can fool the recipient of a call by showing a “real” number on caller ID with spoofing computer software. That’s a…Read more ›
    Mikol Davis
FREE Report: Mental Wellness Technique For Stress Relief