Expert Advice On How Family Caregivers Can Approach A Senior's Mental Decline

Tim Watt  |  July 22, 2013

Being a family caregiver for a loved one is no simple task. In addition to dedicating time and effort to making sure your senior parent is safe and healthy, the role can take an emotional toll, as you may bear witness to cognitive decline in your loved one. Though this can be stressful and upsetting, it's important that family caregivers approach mental issues with an open mind and a desire to help.

Recently, Casey Down, who writes for FOX Business, sat down with Paul Golden, a spokesperson for the National Endowment for Financial Education, which recently released a survey that showed seven out of 10 adults in the U.S. have barriers that prevent them from communicating with family members about who will take care of an aging adult's financial matters. Golden provided some tips that may be helpful for family caregivers today.

Golden's advice for the golden years
Golden outlined some of the most common issues that seniors with cognitive decline face when it comes to finance. Bills are a big problem for many older adults - among seniors who have experienced cognitive decline, 47 percent have trouble making timely payments. Simple math problems are problematic for 36 percent of these individuals, while 21 percent have depleted their savings accounts.

Recognizing these signs of cognitive decline can help family members have a conversation early on to plan for the future. He suggests the process begin with a financial inventory. Caregivers should strive to consolidate the older adult's banking accounts to make tracking and management simpler. This is also the time to square away or update the senior's will and any power of attorney documentation.

Still, even with advance planning, discussing financial matters with family members can be a challenge. Golden says it's not uncommon for individuals to become defensive or embarrassed when talking about money. Some families may experience sibling rivalry when it comes to dealing with an aging parent's money matters. Knowing this information going into the process may help keep conversation civil and productive.

Self-monitoring for seniors
Seniors who have not begun to experience cognitive decline can help out their loved ones by keeping an eye on their own finances and avoiding common mistakes made by retirees. For example, MSN Money reports that many older adults put off financial planning until it's too late. Retirees should also be certain to investigate whether they fit into a lower income bracket than they did while working and be sure to adjust for this matter when filing annual taxes.