Mind Your Own Business: The Frustrations of Helping Seniors With Money

a senior woman holding a jar of coins

 

One of the last areas that seniors will accept help with is their finances.  This holds true in our household and has caused some frustrations more than just once. I was thinking about this last week after a discouraging day-on-the-town.  Money represents an exchange of energy and I believe that once you are not in charge of your money, you are not in charge of your energy… or in other words, you have nothing to exchange for the things you need and so then aren’t in charge of your destiny. It’s a very scary thought.

With most items, my Mom’s memory is still very acute. In fact, I believe that she has a better memory than me. Perhaps it’s because at 91, she still does the daily crossword puzzle or perhaps it’s due to  her fondness for reading, but whatever the case, she is usually sharp as a tack.

However, money and finances are not her strong suit. They frustrate her and when she becomes frustrated, she forgets things. Bank statements just confuse her, so they are not even delivered. She goes by what she knows is coming in and what she THINKS she has spent. I have no access to her accounts. My sister does but… that’s another story.

Mom and I try to get out of the house at least once a week so we had planned to make a quick stop at the bank and then to visit Costco.  Instead of  the quick stop, we spent almost an entire day trying to unravel financial tangles.

This is mostly because Mom forgets her PIN and punches several different numbers into the machine until she gets locked out.  She won’t tell me her number though, so I can’t help out. We have gone to 3 different banks in the last 3 months because of forgotten PINs.  Because Mom was born in Canada and lives in the United States now, she has accounts in both countries.  It’s even more complicated when the forgotten PIN is one from one of her Canadian accounts. It cannot be fixed by phone; a visit to the branch is necessary.  Since I only drive her to Canada twice a year, that can be a big problem. We had fixed the PIN problem 3 months ago, but they are now forgotten again.

When we were at the local bank, she discovered that she had forgotten to bring her I.D. which, of course, just frustrated her even more. “We’re NOT coming back!” she declared. “No, we ARE coming back”, I said “because you need to have access to your money”. So we went back home, retrieved her I.D. and headed back to the bank.  The trip to Costco was quiet and guarded.

Now home from the not-so-fun day on the town, I grabbed the mail and found a letter from MY bank. A check she had written to me (her way of solving the forgotten PIN problem and still getting cash) had not cleared because she had written the year as 2001 rather than 2015. Of course, that money had already been taken out of my account, so back to the bank I went with another check.   She did not say much as she handed me a signed check to fill out myself.

Obviously, the money discussion needs to happen soon.  It’s not that she can’t manage it, she just needs a bit or organization and a back-up plan. Wish me luck.

Post By Shelley Webb (355 Posts)

Shelley Webb is a Registered Nurse and founder of The Intentional Caregiver. She was blessed to have cared for her father in her home for more than 4 years.

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