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Feb 4, 2012

Money Management and Caregiving

Taking care of money matters can be frustrating, overwhelming, and even scary for senior citizens. Many people, including my grandmother, frequently go to the customer service department at their bank for help balancing their checkbooks. This is a good solution, but there are other easier ways to avoid problems. If you have an in home caregiver that is able to help with finances, the senior citizen can avoid the scariness that emerges from missing money and at the same time, avoid an extra trip out to the bank.
Great money management skills are necessary for this task. Most seniors are on a fixed income, either solely Social Security benefits, or perhaps a pension or an annuity payout in addition to Social Security. Either way, a budget is a necessity. Evaluating how much money is coming in and comparing that number to how much is going out in expenses is a very good place to begin. The best way to commence with this is by starting with the absolute necessary expenses. Take their monthly income and subtract these expenses off the top. This includes rent/mortgage fees, groceries, utility bills, and any medication or medical bills that exist. After this, the remaining money can be used for more discretionary purposes. Entertainment should also be considered-everyone needs to have fun and relax at some point during the day. This might come in the form of a cable bill, books, magazine subscriptions, or even investing in a video game system. In all honesty, it doesn't matter what they do for fun; as long as they are having fun and not sitting around in boredom, entertainment is a good expense.
More than good money management skills are necessary when dealing with a senior citizen's finances. You need to be trustworthy and professional as well. Nobody wants to turn over their personal finances to a stranger, so you need to be as soothing as possible when dealing with a senior. Remember that there is a strong human element in this type of task. Yes, you are helping with finances, but you are dealing with a person's finances. Don't forget this.
An optional task that a money manager might encounter is providing funds for appointments. Making sure that there is enough money available in their checking account might be part of your duties as well. As a caregiver, you need to ensure that the senior you are caring for has the appropriate medical help. If they are unable to budget for doctor copayments, you will quickly run into problems. Balancing checkbooks properly and maintaining the right amount of money in their checking account will be an absolute necessity for giving your client the care that they desire.