Ever since dad passed away your elderly mother, who still lives alone, has been forgetting to pay the bills. You’ve noticed unopened envelopes lying around her house with “past due” stamped on the outside, and creditors keep calling her at home. Whenever you try to discuss the topic, she says “your dad used to handle that”, or “I’m just getting old and forgetful”. But now it appears that her lax bill paying has reached the point it’s could threaten her at-home independence. What should you do? To help get mom’s bills paid on time, try these reliable steps.
Why’s Mom Forgetting to Pay Her Bills?
The first step is to sit down with mom and openly discuss why she’s forgetting to pay her bills. Be gentle while explaining the potential problems that could arise, and how those could jeopardize her ability to continue living in the home she loves. Here are some of the main reasons why seniors forget to pay their bills:
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Poor organizational skills
- Vision problems
- Not remembering where they put them
- Loss of a spouse who used to handle the finances
Sometimes older people “forget” to pay their bills because they’re broke, but pride keeps them from telling their grown children. Other seniors become severely depressed and lose interest in normal daily activities like paying their bills. If neither scenario describes your mom, it’s time to develop an action plan to get her bill paying back on track.
Getting Her Bills Paid on Time
Here are some of the ways you can help ensure that mom’s bills get paid in a timely fashion:
Create a Designated Bill Area
Choose an easily accessible place in her home, like a desk drawer, cabinet, or cubbyhole, where she can get into the habit of placing her bills as soon as they arrive. List each monthly bill on a sheet of paper, when it’s due, and check the bill off once it’s paid.
Help Her Prepare and Mail the Checks
If mom is confused about how to write out the checks, offer to do it for her each week. This approach also works well for seniors with vision problems. Once you’ve got the checks filled out, have mom sign them and then drop them in the mail.
Set Up Electronic Payments
Encourage mom to use electronic bill pay, and then help her set up the automatic payments. Ask her to designate you as a custodian on her bank account so that you can monitor her monthly transactions, as this will also help protect her from financial scammers.
Monitor Her Bill Payments Weekly
With mom’s permission, spend a few minutes every week going through her bill payment list and received mail to ensure things are going smoothly.
Become Her “Power-of-Attorney”
When an aging parent has trouble remembering things or making decisions, it’s a good idea for one of their adult children to serve as their “power-of-attorney” (POA). If that’s the case with your mom, serving as her POA would allow bills to be sent directly to your home, and for you to have limited access to her bank accounts to pay her creditors by check or online.
Involve your Siblings
Let your siblings know that you’re assisting mom with her finances and bill paying, notably if she wants to make you her POA. If you don’t live close to mom, but your siblings do, ask for their support in getting mom’s bills paid.
Hire a Third-Party Bill Payer
If you and your siblings live far away from your mom, consider hiring an online, third-party bill payer to handle her monthly obligations. For a monthly fee, companies like Quicken Bill Pay or Pay Trust specialize in bill paying services geared towards the elderly. If mom’s estate is more substantial, hire a licensed financial planner to oversee her bills with your siblings’ blessings.
In-Home Personalized Bill Reminders for Forgetful Seniors
Reminding an elderly parent to pay their bills can be challenging, especially when you live far away. When you need a hand, one of the highly trained caregivers from Cranberry Home Care can step in and provide your loved one with the weekly bill-paying reminders they need. As a family owned and operated agency, we fully understand the importance of protecting your senior’s finances from prying eyes, and highly screen all our employees upfront for your loved one’s safety and security.
In addition to helping with bill paying, while in your senior’s home our aides can perform other duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meal preparation, transportation and companionship. All our in-home services can be flexibly tailored in an affordable package to keep your loved one aging comfortably right where they want to be. To schedule a FREE in-home consultation, or to learn more about Cranberry Home Care’s family trusted home care services for seniors in the Middleboro, MA, area, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!