How to Help Elders Pay Bills

One aspect of care-giving for the elderly is helping them pay their bills. According to the National Aging in Place Council, “Thirteen percent of homeowners age 62 and older (2.5 million) need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). (Reference 1)” When seniors can have assistance in performing ADLs such as money management, they have a better chance of being able to stay in their homes. Help the elder in your life by getting her bills organized and paid, watching for fraud, and setting up banking services.

Choose a desk drawer, cubbyhole, or cabinet where the bills will be kept. Select a place the senior can reach easily. Help her get into the habit of putting the bills that come in the mail in that place every time.

Visit once a week to help her go through the bills. Make a list of the bills and when they need to be paid. Go over for bill paying day when money is coming in for the month or, if money is no problem, pay bills once every week or two in time to reach the creditors before they come due.

Listen to your elder’s opinions. It is his money, after all, and he needs a voice in where it goes. If there is more than one responsible financial option available, his opinion may be as valid as yours. In that case, his ideas should win out.

Help with the actual writing of checks or sending of electronic payments. If the senior’s hands are shaky, write the check for her, with her permission of course, and have her put her signature on it if she agrees. Use duplicate checks. Look over them each bill paying day for evidence of senior fraud being perpetrated on your elderly relative or friend. Learn about scams against seniors and watch for them.

Get outside help if you are unavailable for the month to month finances of your elder. The Financial Planning Association suggests “If you personally can't ensure that their bills are paid and taxes completed — either because you don't live close or because your parents refuse your help — try to get them to use professional services such as a tax accountant and a bonded, licensed bill-paying service.”