Solutions to help you work with the older adult on finances include:
Ask if the older adult wants to discuss financial plans and priorities with family and others close to them. If so, offer to organize the gathering. Ask what the older adult wants to discuss and what topics are off limits. Beforehand, tell everyone that will and won't be discussed.
If the older adult doesn't want to have a group discussion, ask the older adult to talk about financial plans and priorities with you. Say you want to make sure you understand the older adult's wishes.
Whether it's a group or one-on-one discussion, ask the older adult about:
Write down the main points of the discussion. Show the older adult your notes and ask if there's anything you should add or change. Ask if the older adult wants to share the notes with others.
Ask how discussing financial matters makes the older adult feel. Older adults are often concerned about:
People who help older adults manage finances have their own concerns. Be honest with the older adult about your feelings. Tell the older adult if you're concerned about:
Write down the older adult's and your top concerns. If you're faced with a tough financial decision or difficult discussion, look at the list. How might these concerns be affecting your conversation? Can you do something to address these concerns?
If the people who help the older adult disagree about financial decisions, ask the older adult if it affects them. After all, the older adult has the right to decide.
Ask if the older adult wants to discuss disagreements. If so, offer to organize a discussion.
Ask who the older adult wants to involve. Ask whether the older adult wants simply to understand the different opinions or to find a solution that everyone can support. Beforehand, explain the goal of the meeting to everyone.
During the discussion, try to understand why people are disagreeing. Is it because they have different information, see the situation differently or have different priorities?
It can help to:
If disagreements are causing problems, ask the older adult about involving a respected person from outside the group. Having a "neutral" trusted person lead discussions can help. If the older adult wants to do this, ask about community or religious leaders, social workers, advisors or others who could lead discussions.
If you're not comfortable with record keeping or number crunching, there are other ways to help the older adult manage finances. For example, you could give the older adult rides to the bank or credit union, or be the organizer of or note-taker during financial discussions. You could help the older adult with health or home needs, freeing up someone else's time for financial tasks.
One of the biggest challenges for people who help older adults is admitting when they aren't able to help. If you can't help the older adult manage finances, say so. Offer to contact local agencies, professionals, or trusted family or friends who might be able to help the older adult with financial tasks.