Finance: Aging Parents And Money
Police are currently investigating a story about an 86-year-old woman from Ontario who was duped out of her life’s savings by a man posing as a bank employee. There were several red flags, including being asked for the money in cash. As we age, we may assume that younger professionals have more (and better) information than what we currently possess, so we may follow their lead. It was her daughter who became wise to the scam. These types of stories are all-too common.
Being smack-dab in the middle of the sandwich generation has never been more evident. Chances are, you’re the go-to person for everyone when it comes to fiscal advice, but it’s especially important to make yourself available to assist your parents with their financial options.
To have a parent come to you with what might seem like a simple question about money, may seem alarming. However, if they are now alone following the loss of their spouse through death or divorce, it may be the first time that they’ve had to deal with such things as keeping on top of monthly expenses, or withdrawing money from registered accounts like their RRSP or TFSA. And, in extreme cases, cognitive issues may now make it difficult for them to grasp certain concepts.
When it comes time for your parent(s) to retire, sell the family home and downsize, your suggestions, and influence, may prove to be invaluable. Not only can you provide financial input during these trying times, but much-needed emotional support as well. Take the time to really listen, and ask how you can help.
It’s not our role to teach our parents about financial literacy, but we can offer advice and assistance.
In a recent survey by the National Council on Aging in the U.S., they found that a high percentage of people over the age of 60 were most concerned about how they would pay for unexpected, or emergency, expenses. Plus, they were worried about maintaining their current lifestyle, in terms of staying in their home and if they’d saved enough for retirement. With these anxieties in mind, ask your parents if their needs are being met.
If you don’t feel confident about your own financial literacy, take the steps to educate yourself. ABC Literacy Canada and The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada are good places to start. Read up on all the benefits that your parents qualify for, and make sure that they apply for them, as most government benefits don’t start automatically. In addition, to claim benefits, their tax returns need to be filed and up to date. It’s important to stay on top of these details, as your parents will reap the benefits.
If you are on the older end of the life spectrum and are looking to your children for financial advice, remember that you are the one who is in control. According to the federal government, financial exploitation is the most common type of elder abuse. You don’t want anyone making decisions on your behalf that aren’t in your best interest. If someone is going to take advantage of your situation, it often starts with a health crisis, or after the death a spouse, partner or close friend. It’s not typical, but worth mentioning. It’s important that we look out for each other on every level – including financial.
Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a journalist, personal finance expert and HPG’s finance editor. Rubina appears on CBC TV and radio, CTV Your Morning, Global Toronto, and writes for ratesupermarket.ca. Follow her @alwayssavemoney. AlwaysSaveMoney.ca