Mar 26, 2021
Managing our finances can stymie even the best and brightest among us. Sometimes we need help, even if our finances are not complicated.
As we age, managing the day-to-day tasks that involve our money–from paying the bills and balancing the checkbook to giving to charity, filing insurance claims, managing Medicare and/or Medicaid paperwork, and more–can become too much to handle. There are a number of age-related issues that can cause managing money to become difficult:
- Arthritis or other conditions that limit a person’s ability to write
- Visual impairment
- Cognitive impairment
- Vulnerability to pressure or undue influence
- The loss of a spouse, family member, or friend who previously handled a person’s finances
If you or a loved one is having trouble paying bills and managing life’s paperwork, finding a trustworthy money manager might help maintain independence. SeniorCare administers the Massachusetts Money Management Program and provides services to older residents of nine towns, which include Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham.
SeniorCare’s Money Managers are trained and supervised volunteers, who help with routine household financial tasks such as sorting and prioritizing mail, preparing checks for signature, balancing the checkbook with bank statement, developing a budget, and filling out forms and other paperwork. It has been estimated that 5-10% of all elders living in the community could benefit from some form of money management.
According to a brief released by the National Center on Elder Abuse, money management programs can protect vulnerable seniors against financial exploitation. Serious concerns have surfaced in the past decade over the financial exploitation of frail and vulnerable older adults.
According to a study by the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging & Longevity, the most common characteristics associated with being a victim of financial abuse are being white, female, and over the age of 80. Other characteristics include elders residing alone, in their own home, poor health status, the loss of a life partner, and social isolation. Furthermore, having family members who are unemployed or who have substance abuse problems was also identified as placing an older person at risk of financial abuse.
The study states that the money management programs that step in to help after financial abuse is discovered are often able to lessen the impact of the abuse.
There are common criteria or indicators that are used to assess the need for money management services:
- Not paying bills, insurance premiums, taxes and other expenses that result in the risk or actuality of eviction, foreclosure, discontinued utilities, late fees, and penalties
- Paying the same bill multiple times
- Not keeping track of checks or cash
- Forgetting to collect rent from tenants
- Not carrying out routine tasks such as opening and paying bills
- Excessive spending
- Exploitation by others as evidenced by
- Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts
- Sudden changes in the elder’s financial status
- Changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, and policies that the elder cannot explain
- Numerous transfers from saving to checking accounts
- Change in patterns of banking
In addition to the Massachusetts Money Management Program, SeniorCare is a participating agency in the Social Security Representative Payment Program, which provides benefit payment management for beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income payments.
For information about SeniorCare’s Money Management Program or the Social Security Representative Payment Program, call 978-281-1750 and asking to speak to the Money Management Program Coordinator.
If you suspect a person age 60 or over is being financially exploited, please call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275 (available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week).
Do you enjoy basic household bookkeeping tasks? If you would like information on how to become a Massachusetts Money Management Program volunteer, call 978-281-1750 and ask to speak to the Money Management Program Coordinator.