Do you help look after an aging parent, or care for an ill or elderly relative? If you do, you are part of one of the largest unpaid workforces in America. Keeping up with ongoing care for a loved one can affect your personal well-being. The National Alliance for Caregiving wants you to know that you are not alone. November is National Family Caregivers Month, designed to bring awareness to caregivers’ needs and help connect families with important resources.
If we haven’t already, most of us will eventually take on some form of caregiving responsibility. Managing finances is a key area where elderly relatives will likely need help. At some point as your parents age, they may start to struggle with routine tasks like balancing bank accounts and paying bills on time.
Getting involved in a relative’s finances can feel overwhelming at first. Here are a few helpful tips to remember as you navigate family caregiving:
- Reach out to professionals for advice. Remember that no one expects you to have all the answers. The legal and regulatory details may be new to you, but bankers, insurance providers, attorneys and medical professionals have helped many families work through these challenges.
- Consider a Power of Attorney. One of the most helpful proactive steps you can take is to have a conversation with your parent(s) about naming you or another relative they trust as their legal Power of Attorney (POA). This is the person who will make financial decisions on their behalf if they are unable. Even though they may not need you to step in for them yet, it’s much simpler to obtain the POA document now while your parent is competent (by visiting an attorney together). Otherwise, if they were to become incapacitated, it would require a more complex legal process.
- If your parent is hesitant, you might suggest they keep the POA document in a safe place at home, and reassure them you won’t access it unless it becomes necessary.
- Have your parent add you as a co-signor on bank accounts. Without a POA document to show your legal authority, banks will be limited on what types of transactions and inquiries they can help you with regarding your loved one’s accounts. But if you can’t get the POA just yet, you can still help your parent(s) manage their money and pay bills by becoming a co-signor on their bank accounts.
- Arvest can help you become a co-signor, with you and your parent both present, either by phone, video conference, or in person at a local branch. Visit arvest.com to schedule a convenient time. Or call (866) 952-9523.
- Make sure you know where to find important documents. Ask your parent where they keep the financial and personal documents you would need in an emergency. If necessary, help them organize everything in one central place. (A good tip for all adults, not just seniors.)
- caring.com* is a leading website for detailed articles and professional advice on every topic related to eldercare — including legal and financial matters. They also offer a free referral service to help you find local senior living and care providers that meet your family’s specific needs.
- Don’t forget there are many government and non-profit organizations with the mission to connect seniors and their caregivers to free and low-cost services that can improve their quality of life. They can also make sure you don’t miss out on public benefits you or your relative may qualify for. A great place to start is your local Area Agency on Aging*.
Whether you are just starting to assist your loved one with managing money, or you have taken on legal responsibility for their accounts, our Arvest associates are here to help answer any questions along the way. Our goal is to make the banking experience as smooth as possible for both of you.
Let us know how we can help!
You can find key resources for caregivers here: